Saturday, March 30, 2013

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel

The visionary fashion editor is profiled in this well-made documentary. Outlandish, extravagant, exotic, dramatic, witty, and glamorous; every utterance by Diana Vreeland was instantly quotable. Completely disarming; Vreeland would say the most incredible things, wait for a reaction from her host, and then seem utterly pleased with herself. It's a toss up, but these two quotes were my favorite: "Don't be boring" (how true!) and "I shall die very young; 70, 80, or 90, but I shall die very young".

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Battle: New York Day II

Schizophrenics are the only people left alive in New York after zombies attack in this low-budget horror film. I think. Honestly, I'm not sure because the intermittent sound made it difficult to hear pertinent dialogue. Seriously, shaky cam (and there's a lot of it) is one thing, but shaky mic is another. So, a woman talks with her psychiatrist on a pier because that seems likely, then there's an awful lot of walking. I'm not really sure why. Suddenly, a guy in a cardigan attacks! It's not very good. Then someone offscreen bangs on a synthesizer repeatedly that has been preset to Orchestral Stab in order to create an air of tension. It's loud, and not very good. Then more zombies attack, I think. The zombies aren't very convincing. They have a drop of blood dripping from their eyes as the only makeup to differentiate them from ordinary slow-moving people. Normally, I would be convinced that someone is definitely dead when they have blood dripping from their eyes, because people just don't survive once that happens. You're doomed. Anyone who's ever seen Horror Express knows that.

Yeah, if blood drips from your eyes, that could mean only one thing. It means you're on a train with Christopher Lee and Telly Savalas, there's a monster onboard with psychic brain-ensmoothening powers that causes people to bleed from the eyes, and you're in danger. Sadly, Battle New York II doesn't have any of those things, so maybe you should watch Horror Express instead.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sand Sharks

The smarmy kid from Parker Lewis Can't Lose attempts to throw a music festival on a beach being attacked by sharks that swim through sand in this nonsensical horror-comedy. I was going to start this review off with a bang and insert a clip from the 1990s TV show Parker Lewis Can't Lose, but watching them made me throw up in my mouth. So I'm not going to.

Dammit. I think I just urped up a granola bar. It's just so awful. The show, not the granola bar. Well, it's not so great a second time. Speaking of awful, let's get back to the movie.

So a guy rides a dirt bike on the beach, and the camera is visible in the reflection of his helmet. Then he's eaten by a poorly rendered CGI sand shark. Then there's a montage of young people doing beach-related things on a beach, and I think that granola bar is coming up again. Don't get me wrong, I love the beach. I just hate bugs, and sun, and young people, and fun, and young people having fun. Then someone says, "We can't have you running around with guns chasing after some fish" and that seems fine. Then someone holds up a rubber shark fin in front of the camera in lieu of special effects and that seems fine. The we get to the actual 'music festival' part of the movie, and this music festival consists of tens of evenly spaced people running in terror back and forth in front of the camera while being chased by poorly rendered CGI shark fins that look like moth wings and that seems fine. Then someone says "This island's going to be crawling with sharks" and that seems fine but you shouldn't trust me because I've been burping up granola bar.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Even more half-assed reviews!

According to my daughter's dog, I'm "The Peanut Butter Guy". Whenever this enormous beast comes to visit, he assumes I have nothing better to do than put peanut butter and dog biscuits in his chew toy every 15 minutes. He barks at me until I have given him what he wants.

I am not going to be bossed around like that.

Well dog, I do have a few other things to do than serve you peanut butter. Unfortunately, a couple of those things involve leaving Deathrage Towers, and I can't do that. I am sort of snowed in. The building is empty and quiet today, and the only mode of transportation I currently have available to me is the vintage Alfa Romeo. It began overheating yesterday, and I need to take it to the shop down the street because I fired Auto Mechanic. The Alfa (or as I like to call it, The Sexy Deathwagon), really hates the snow. The instant I get it out on the streets in even a light dusting, it slips and slides and becomes stuck, refusing to budge. And the Alfa is much too small to haul around the enormous dog, his dog toy, and a jar of peanut butter. Regardless if the auto shop is just down the street from the Tower, if we're trapped in the tundra and no one rescues us, I'll be forced to eat both the dog and the peanut butter, and I can't have that, because there's no room to properly cook a dog in an Alfa Romeo because it's a two-seater and there's no place for a spice rack and my daughter might be upset by that.

Well, by me cooking her dog in a convertible Italian sports car, not really about a lack of seasonings.

You know what I mean.

Anyway, I've watched some more movies and I haven't been able to review them because of all the peanut buttering, so here we go:

My Amityville Horror is a documentary about the life of Daniel Lutz, who lived in the house when the supposed haunting took place. I don't doubt for a minute that Daniel Lutz is haunted by something, as he seems genuinely scarred by the experience. His steely, aggressive, and confrontational gaze is the center of the film.

Hold on a minute, the dog is barking at me again.

Ok, I've given him the whole damn jar.

And he's enjoying it on my couch.

I'm a terrible babysitter.

The Haunting Of Whaley House is an Asylum film based loosely on the legend of the actual Whaley House. I enjoyed the simple, effective special effects, but the murder portion of the movie seemed forced and hokey.

There seems to be a lot more peanut butter adhered to the couch than I normally like, so I should probably clean that up. Mrs. Deathrage is going to be very upset. I'll blame it on the dog.

*No dogs were cooked in the making of this post.

Free Radicals: A History Of Experimental Cinema

Free Radicals: A History Of Experimental Cinema is just that. Thankfully, the film-maker quickly disposes of the premise of "Let's examine experimental film by showing MY home movies and film experiments" and gets on with the task at hand. Featuring clips of the hypnotic scratch animation techniques of Len Lye,

the found footage 'letterist' films of Maurice Lemaitre,

the pre-Python animations of Stan Vanderbeek,

the undulating film paintings of Stan Brakhage, (the film-maker used Brakhage's 'Existence Is Song' which I couldn't find on Youtube)

 and Len Lye's gorgeous 'Rainbow Dance',

I enjoyed Free Radicals when it simply does what it's supposed to do.

Paul Williams: Still Alive

A film-maker obsesses over the Oscar-winning actor/songwriter in this slightly creepy documentary. Filled with vintage clips of Paul Williams singing his now-standard easy listening hits and appearances on Match Game, the Gong Show, and being flung from an airplane a day after winning the Oscar for Barbra Streisand's hit 'Evergreen'; the film-maker awkwardly fawns over the performer, begs to have a 'sleep-over', and bonds with him over plates of calamari. I think the film was supposed to be humorous, but it comes off like Paul Williams: Still Alive: The Blooper Reel. Trying to paint Paul Williams as somewhat difficult, it seemed Paul Williams was just as fatigued filming the 2-year shoot as I was watching it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Upsetter: The Art And Music Of Lee 'Scratch' Perry

The life of the legendary reggae producer is examined in this colorful documentary. Watching the preview for this film, Mrs. Deathrage says to me, "I just freakin' love reggae". I was quite surprised by this, as I've never actually heard her listen to a single note of reggae music in the 400 years we've been married. I wouldn't exactly call myself a reggae fan, but I own a couple of albums.

That tune is by Black Uhuru, and it doesn't really have anything to do with Lee 'Scratch' Perry. I just like it.

So yeah, that's the only album I have by The Upsetters. Anyway, so I said that I was surprised that my wife said she loved reggae, and I said I never heard her listen to any. So she said that she just really likes The Clash. I became even more confused, because I always thought that The Clash were a really great disco band.

I guess it's important to define your terms. So, The Upsetter: The Art And Music Of Lee 'Scratch' Perry is a fascinating look at the legendary producer; who produces some records, paints on everything, sets things on fire, and gets accosted by a Canadian. I enjoyed it.

*OK, so reading this review to my wife, she apparently takes issue with some parts of this story which may have been partially fabricated for comedic effect. She claims that she never equated The Clash with reggae, but that she saw The Clash once, and they played reggae music before the concert from speakers as tall as buildings, and reggae gives her a warm, nostalgic feeling. So there's that.

Into The Unknown: The Pascagoula Alien Abductions

If I was capable of human emotion, I would feel almost bad for the protagonists in this documentary. In front of a packed audience of about a dozen or so people who we never see because of the static camera and standing in front of mylar balloons that reflect the cameraman as they drift distractingly in the air-conditioned breeze; a man recounts his story of the time he was abducted by aliens. Then we're given the opportunity to watch an 'exclusive interview' where the poor guy has to retell his story of getting abducted by carrot-like aliens again as the interviewer just seems to nod while they sit in front of some hotel room draperies. Then to add insult to injury for everyone involved, the abductee tells his story AGAIN and I decide I just can't take it anymore so I watch six or seven episodes of season three of Archer instead. Looking like it was taken from a beat-up copy on VHS where someone needs to adjust the tracking, Into The Unknown: The Pascagoula Alien Abductions is one of the worst things ever, but I can't really recommend it unless you're suffering from insomnia.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Admiral Byrd, the Hollow Earth Exploration, and UFOs

I attempted to watch some films on Netflix last night, but I was thwarted by an ominous error message which said that my account was in use on too many machines. Out of the 100 titles listed under the Recently Viewed Section of my account, which has such television dreck as Toddlers And Tiaras, Law And Order: SVU, and Bridalplasty: Season 1 in it, I account for 12% of the titles actually watched on Netflix.


I'm not sure how this is possible, as I have a very refined and sophisticated palate and would never stoop to watching something called Bridalplasty. I'm assuming that the minions within Deathrage Towers have accessed my account, and are just running amok. There's no other explanation. Well, my children; who are all in college, have jobs, and can afford their own Netflix accounts, might have been watching stuff.

Nah, couldn't be.

Speaking of refined and sophisticated, I watched the documentary entitled Admiral Byrd, the Hollow Earth Exploration, and UFOs on Snagfilms through my Blu-Ray player because you really have to keep your head on a swivel around here with the Netflix usurping and all. This documentary consisted of grainy, ancient UFO footage, still shots of typewritten pages with yellow highlighter emphasizing the most scandalous passages, obscure paperback book covers in extreme close-up, and a man in a suit standing behind a podium reading aloud to a classroom full of coughing audience members who look at maps of a Hollow Earth, who I can only guess number in the dozens. Did you know an 'airship' crashed in Aurora, Texas in 1897? I had nothing to do with it, and I'm not sure what that has to do with Admiral Byrd. Apparently, Admiral Byrd knew that there is a secret entrance to the center of the Earth, and it's at the North and South Poles, and that's where UFOs and the Northern Lights come from.

I have a shocking revelation. The makers of this film are correct, and the Earth is actually hollow. I should know, because I've been to the center of the Earth. The Earth is hollow, and at its center is Hell. I spent a week there for Spring Break with Cthulu, my roommate from Miskatonik University. It wasn't as fun as it sounds.

What's Hell like, you ask? Well, it looks an awful lot like a classroom filled with coughing audience members, who sit in the dark transfixed by what a guy in a suit says as he points to maps of a Hollow Earth he posts on an overhead projector.

Sorry, but there doesn't seem to be a trailer for Admiral Byrd, the Hollow Earth Exploration, and UFOs, so please enjoy this refined and sophisticated clip.

Wesley Willis's Joy Rides

The outsider artist and musician is profiled in this documentary. Bittersweet, charming and respectful, Wesley Willis's Joy Rides generally avoids exploitation. Exploitation would be easy to do. Suffering from schizophrenia, spouting strange non-sequiturs, obese, standing 6'5", and often appearing disheveled; this portrait of Wesley Willis could have devolved into a tragic comedy. Instead, it showed Willis' sense of humor, his work ethic, his business acumen (which consisted of carrying around large quantities of cash from gigs, merch, and cd sales, but that seemed to work for him), and many images of his ballpoint pen drawings of buildings and buses.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Super Cyclone

Offshore drilling causes an unconvincing volcano, some unconvincing CPR, some unconvincing weather patterns, and some unconvincing CGI explosions in this Asylum disaster of a disaster film. Rather than repeat myself, you can consider the following things found in the film Super Cyclone to be unconvincing: any lava found on the floor of an oil rig, any helicopter turbulence, any instances of lifeboats boiling, any tidal waves, or any mysteriously windy doors. Someone confuses Florida with Southern California, someone throws hay on the windshield of a car, and for some reason none of the blinds covering any windows in any Asylum film are ever open. Why is that? Don't tell me.

More Half-Assed Reviews

Something in the dining room of the penthouse of Deathrage Towers smells like a foot. I can't find what is causing the stench due to the piles of dirty laundry scattered hither and yon. The kitchen sink is filled with dirty dishes. If I wasn't ill with bronchitis, I would fire everyone who had anything to do with the penthouse being a filthy pig-sty. Unfortunately, I'm continuously coughing, and I don't have the strength to push my minions down the elevator shaft, because clearly they had something to do with it. They overpower me and run away. If I knew the culprits' names, I would write an email to Human Resources and have them do it. Unfortunately, I'm much too busy, even while I'm coughing and struggling to breathe.

Even though I'm stricken with consumption, or the gryppe, or an ague, I forget which; I managed to watch several movies, and I'm just not going to get around to writing reviews for them.

The Antics Road Show is a film that has something to do with art-prankster Banksy, and it's about various pranks. I liked it, but I don't think I get the point of it.

I enjoyed Bridesmaids, but I was expecting something a little more riotous. I may have been the last person on the planet to see this film. I was certainly the last person in Deathrage Towers to see it. Melissa McCarthy amazes, and Wilson Phillips made me very angry.

An interplanetary trader is pursued in this noir outer space musical. Filmed in stark black and white, The American Astronaut is surprisingly tuneful.

Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow is a documentary about an artist. I don't know his name, because there were no opening credits. He wears flip-flops while working with fire, molten lead, and broken glass, so I'm assuming he's a hippie. Anyway, lots of foreboding music played, and we see beautiful photography of various tunnels, ruins, rust, and decay. It's very nice; but it's a lot like 2001: A Space Odyssey, except if it was approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes of monolith and the monolith was a gigantic painting of trees covered in ash. Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow is all monolith all the time, except where there was some interview footage, and then you really wished there was some more gripping monolith action, because the interview is as tedious as watching grass grow.

Devil's Kiss

Well, I had to go to IMDB to find out what Devil's Kiss was about. Apparently, a Count and Countess conduct experiments where they reanimate the dead to kill for them.

Yeah, I didn't get that. The movie I saw featured a poncho and pant-suited avant-garde fashion show in a torture chamber, a half-hearted seance where someone faints, and then a medium gives a dwarf a piggy-back ride before feeding him a turkey leg and removing her blouse. Then a coffin gets unearthed, someone eats soup, a chicken gets stabbed, and a monster wearing blue eyeshadow attacks. All of that sounds pretty groovy, and other than the sassy strutting of the fashion models in their ponchos and pantsuits with the strategically placed cutouts, it isn't really.

Alien Dawn

Martians attack in this sci-fi thriller. Alien Dawn is a little bit District 9, a little bit War Of The Worlds, and a little bit Cloverfield; and by "a little bit", I really mean "completely rips off from beginning to end, and you would probably have a more satisfying movie experience by watching any of those three films". Some of the effects aren't too bad, but the movie really suffers whenever the human characters do anything; like when they accidentally drink bleach, bicker, or inexplicably push shopping carts.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Metal Tornado

The guy from the movie La Bamba and one of the stars of television's BJ & The Bear appear in this movie about a metal tornado. Through the magic of some unconvincing CGI, solar flares are captured which get transformed into magnetism, and there's a mishap which creates a cruddy CGI tornado with the awe-inspiring power to knock a guy unconscious with a can of soup. As with actual tornadoes, the Metal Tornado seems to have a grudge against farms because it wreaks havoc on a chicken coop, destroys a barn, crushes a guy with a tractor, and stabs a guy with sharp farm implements. There's a twist (yeah, I did that), because evidently a second Metal Tornado doesn't really like France that much either because it levels the Eiffel Tower and destroys Paris. Sadly, it's not very interesting. Avoid Metal Tornado unless you're just really into watching movies where people talk on phones, or text, or read emails, or pretend to type, or use zip-drives.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Berserker: Hell's Warrior

So, I was almost 2 minutes into Berserker: Hell's Warrior before I realized it was a Nordic, chain-mailed, dragon-boated, Highlander Viking Beyond Thunderdome beardtastrophe. I'm somewhat upset with myself as having not realized sooner, but I was transfixed by the sight of Patrick Bergin's sad, wispy, phony beard as it daintily drifted on the breeze, and hypnotized by all of the stilted dialogue that sounded like Anchorman outtakes. Thankfully, I can't find a trailer for Berserker: Hell's Warrior, so just enjoy these videos of Ron Burgundy saying things.