Monday, January 27, 2014

Sunset Strip

The history of the legendary street is examined in this hyperbole-laden, but well-shot documentary. For every insightful interview with Kim Fowley, Kenneth Anger, Dita Von Teese, Rodney Bingenheimer and Lemmy from Motorhead, there's a ham-fisted one with Mickey Rourke and Billy Corgan. Avoid turning it off during the first pretentious 15 minutes or so when you'll see a yawn-inducing jam from 70s soft-rockers America, and you'll see some footage of X playing at the Whisky and a moment from the film Urgh! A Music War.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Cold snap

Deathrage Towers is often destroyed by various supervillains and arch enemies. It happens quite a bit. In fact, it happened just last week. This time, it was different. Some new supervillain named Winter Storm Ion froze several pipes in the penthouse which caused water damage through all 42 floors of the building. Normally, I get some sort of taunt from a supervillain before they strike, and often they make themselves known. No such luck with this villain. If you happen to see Winter Storm Ion, let me know. Just point him out, and I'll handle it.

The damage to the building probably could have been avoided if I hadn't fired the maintenance staff. Well, you live and learn. Since I had no maintenance staff, I did the only sensible thing to save the building.

I called Aquaman. Here's what he looks like:

He seemed a little annoyed when I called. I'm not sure why, as he's a superhero and is expected to save people and junk, and I have an Aquaman hotline telephone in the shape of a conch installed in the penthouse exactly for situations like this. Here's how that call went down:

Stabford Deathrage, Billionaire Man About Town: Yo Aquaman, can you swing by the penthouse and fix my pipes? I've sprung a leak, and all my DVDs are getting ruined.

Aquaman, Second String Justice Leaguer: Um, who is this and how did you get my number?

Stabford Deathrage, Debonair Film Enthusiast: Duh, it's Stabford Deathrage, debonair film enthusiast, just like it says right there. Grab a wrench and stop this leak, man. I ain't got time for this.

Aquaman, Fish Whisperer: You do realize I'm a superhero and not a plumber, right? This doesn't sound like a global fish-related emergency to me.

Stabford Deathrage, Legendary Author: Mr. Freeze is on the loose bursting the pipes of tax-paying citizens and...

Aquaman, Sushi Expert: I'm going to have to stop you there. That's Batman's foe. Call him.

Stabford Deathrage, Soggy Blogger: Um, Captain Cold has escaped...

Aquaman, Worthless On Land: That's Flash's enemy. Call him.

Stabford Deathrage, Irritated Entrepreneur: Whatever. I don't care how how you do it. Communicate with a whale, ride a seahorse, or jam your finger in the end of the pipe. Just get the job done. I've already lost all my DVDs from A-D, and T-Z may not make it. If I have to replace my Blu-Ray of Birdemic, I'm going to be pissed. You've got five minutes to teleport your scaly ass down from that stupid Justice League satellite, Fish Sticks, or else. 

Aquaman, Stuporfriend: *click*, *dial tone*

Hindsight being 20/20, maybe I was a bit harsh. And I probably could have handled that with a bit more tact. Well, that was then, and this is now, and right now I have a partially destroyed skyscraper to deal with. I'll rebuild, and it'll be better than ever.

Anyway, I haven't watched any movies since Aquaman went ahead and allowed my penthouse to be destroyed. The last film I watched was Our Nixon.

Our Nixon is a documentary created using home movies shot by one of the guys involved in the Watergate scandal. It was pretty well done, but a little dry. Also, I'm not up on my current events, so I was a little lost about some of the finer details like who, where, what and why with regards to Watergate and Richard Nixon. One part that I really liked was when Richard Nixon said, and I paraphrase, 'I like my music square because I'm a big ol' square'. Then the Ray Conniff Singers got up on stage and ripped Ol' Tricky Dick a new one. That was pretty sweet, not because I agree with any specific politics or anything, but because I like seeing powerful people squirm a little.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Death Machines

According to IMDB, the synopsis for Death Machines is, and I quote, so don't get mad at me because I didn't write it; 'An evil Oriental Dragon Lady injects three martial arts fighters with a serum that turns them into zombie-like assassins, and she sends them out against her enemies'. I'm not sure I believe that. I was watching Death Machines on Youtube while in bed and I had the sound down very, very low so it wouldn't wake Mrs. Deathrage. Anyway, since the sound was turned down very low, I turned on the Closed Captioning. I own Death Machines on the DVD 50-pack called Sci-Fi Invasion, but I was too lazy to get up and put it in the laptop. The closed captioning was a little wacky, so I have no idea what this movie is about.

Here's what my take on this film was: Some dudes fight with absurdly long sticks, and then a sniper is thrown off a building. Then a guy in a phone booth gets runs over by a guy driving a bulldozer.

Hold on. Let's go back to the stick fighting guys for a second. Sticks are not exactly inconspicuous. I mean, who just carries those around with them waiting for eskrima to break out on a bamboo bridge suspended over a serene koi pond filled with lily pads? I don't, and I know a little stick fighting. It's one of my many super powers. By the way, eskrima is a Filipino martial art, but that's not important right now.

If someone saw you on a bamboo bridge carrying a long pointy stick or a couple of swords, odds are everyone (including your potential enemy) would avoid that area, even if it's a picturesque bridge over a nice pond. Everybody would be like, "Hey, let's not cross that bamboo bridge over the koi pond, because there's a loony blocking the way wielding a pointy stick. I've seen Monty Python And The Holy Grail. We should take the long way around."

Anyway, I'm having a little difficulty following the plot because the closed captions are a little faulty.

I'm not sure what that means. I think it's important, but I'm not sure. I don't see anyone in the cast with that name.

I'm not sure what Fear Closet Friday is, but I would pay good money to watch that movie. It seems like it would be more interesting than Death Machines.

Here's the pitch for the blockbuster film Fear Closet Friday, coming soon to a theatre near you: Some mad scientist stores his/her Death Machines (which I'm assuming would be robots from outer space with eyes that shoot laser beams and buzz saws for hands) and mind-controlled zombies (which would be actual zombies and not stick fighting martial artists) in the Fear Closet, and on Friday this mad scientist guy releases them from the Fear Closet onto an unsuspecting world to wreak havoc, but only on a Friday. See, that's a much better movie than this one. Someone should write that.

Anyway, somebody orders a burrito or spaghetti (It's somewhat hard to tell from this print), and there's a miniature Buddha in it. Then a truck runs into the restaurant, nearly killing the diner who ordered the burrito. Then another stick fight breaks out, and then a guy eats a sandwich.

To summarize, I don't recall there being any Sci-Fi Invasion-like Death Machines in the film Death Machines, and I don't remember any mind-controlled zombies. Death Machines should have been called Stick Fighters, A Chick With Gigantic Hair, And Two Unappetizing Meals, but I'm certain that title is too long for a marquee.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans Of My Little Pony

Fans of the children's television show are outlined in this well-made, but overly chipper documentary. I found this film to be very depressing. I was prepared to eviscerate this film and the fans of the show. What was extremely unexpected was how moved I was by the fear and shame the fans feel, and the lengths that bullies will go to to inflict physical and psychological damage to these poor guys. I am still a little baffled by the obsessive fandom surrounding this upbeat, happy, and optimistic television show, because I dislike happiness and rainbows and friendship. To each his own. More power to ya, Bronies.


A college student gets an unassembled motorcycle Fed-Ex'ed to him, and this remarkable motorcycle can transfo... I mean change into a robotic exoskeleton in this low-budget Malaysian sci-fi film. There's a simplistic script, wooden acting, terrible dialogue, iffy greenscreen, and lackluster CGI. However, I was a slightly impressed by the film-makers ability to mimic Michael Bay-like Hollywood blockbusters with approximately 2% of the budget.

Battle Beneath The Earth

The Chinese invent digging machines and tunnel beneath the western United States placing atomic weapons under key strategic military targets in this breathless, paranoid Cold War thriller. Honestly I became distracted very early on in this film with the images of Las Vegas in the 1960s. I realize it was filmed on a soundstage, but what genius thought to put a BBQ restaurant together with a pancake house, and then put that next to a striptease joint? Brilliant. You could eat every meal there and never leave. Anyway, after that I became bored with the tunneling, and the laser beams, and the teleporting.

Seriously though, why isn't a BBQ and Pancake House an actual thing?

After some research on the Internet, there are real BBQ and Pancake Houses. There's one in Austin. I might have to go check that out.

Good Ol' Freda

The story of the shy, unassuming secretary who became the secretary and fan club president to the Beatles is outlined in this excellent documentary. Featuring fantastic photos of the Beatles performing in the Cavern Club prior to their worldwide success and lots of lovely anecdotes, Freda Kelly is so warm, adorable and engaging that I could have watched her all day. Much of the documentary consists of Freda sitting on her couch, and she couldn't have been more riveting. Where to begin? The fact she saw the Beatles perform in the Cavern Club 190 Times? The fact she gave her home address out as the fan club address and received thousands of letters a day? Eating egg and chips with Ringo's mum? Gathering up bits of Beatle hair from the barber to send to adoring fans? Freda Kelly demonstrated an astonishing level of professionalism and dedication to the band, and let's not forget her dedication to their millions of fans around the world.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Upside Down: The Creation Records Story

The rise and fall of the seminal British independent record label is outlined in this well-made documentary. Filled with interviews, concert clips, and nearly indecipherable Scottish brogues, Upside Down is a touch overlong. Drugs, partying, and mismanagement all brought down the influential label, but not before releasing several indispensable albums. Like with most rockumentaries, I found I wanted to hear more music from the bands and less talking. I'll take my own advice and just post some clips.

 The Jesus And Mary Chain being interviewed and footage from a riot at one of their shows.

Primal Scream performing Higher Than The Sun

Here's the enigmatic, reclusive band Felt performing live. Sadly, Felt only garnered a passing reference near the end of the film. Side note: A Creation pressing of Felt's cd Forever Breathes The Lonely Word is selling on Ebay for over $100. You can't have mine. Be mad all you want, you only have yourself to blame for owning the Top Gun Soundtrack. I tried to talk you out of it.

Ride performing Dreams Burn Down.

Teenage Fanclub performing The Concept. Did you know Spin Magazine voted their album Bandwagonesque Album Of The Year over Nirvana's Nevermind? Well, they did.

And finally, the landmark album which nearly bankrupted the company. Here's My Bloody Valentine performing Soon in 2013.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Clearance! All These Reviews Must Go!

Here's a bunch of reviews I never got around to finishing in 2013. Enjoy! Or not. Whatever. I still welcome our vampire zombie robot overlords.

The Heat

Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy play an Odd Couple of cops (see what I did there?) in this overlong action comedy. The ribald humor comes at a lightning pace, but the movie could have been trimmed by a solid half-hour. The feels kick in at the 3/4 mark, dragging the film to a halt. I laughed a lot, though.

Dr. Jin 

Purely by accident, I selected Dr. Jin, and it started playing. Since it started playing, I had to watch it. Here's what I think this Korean television show is about: A doctor travels back in time to a period when everyone wore extravagant hats, and then does a LOT of brain surgery in flashback. Sometimes when he does this strangely-gory-for-television brain surgery, he'll find gummy bear-esque fetuses within the patients' skulls. Then everyone has some sort of feelings. It's a lot like a Korean Grey's Anatomy, except if Grey's Anatomy took place in Seoul during the 19th century and had fewer sudsy lesbian sex scenes.


Pre-fab pop group The Monkees star in this career-destroying musical. Completely plotless and consisting of pop surrealistic vignettes interspersed with vaguely anti-war and anti-commercial moments, I still really enjoyed it. It's a fascinating relic from the psychedelic age.

Brainiac (2007)

Formula 259 causes people to change into a humanoid creature with an exposed, pulsating brain that sucks its victims' brains out through their palates. No, not this Formula:

And not this Brainiac:

It's worse.

Brainiac (1962)

Since I was on a Brainiac roll, I decided to watch the 1962 version of Brainiac. I probably shouldn't have. After being burned at the stake, a Baron comes back to life after a poorly-rendered comet passes overhead. Unfortunately, he's now in the shape of a forked-tongued monster who sucks his victims' brains out of their eye-sockets and leaves them for dead in their boxer shorts. Brainiac is slow-moving and tedious, but it has its moments.

World War Z

That guy that's married to Angelina Jolie stars in this zombie action film. While it has its horrific moments, World War Z is more akin to an action-adventure movie than your typical zombie film. The zombies are like swarms of really bite-y lemmings. Do lemmings bite? Do they swarm? I don't know, but World War Z is very taut and thrilling, and effectively manages to dramatize worldwide chaos.

The Moleman Of Belmont Avenue

Two guys battle a moleman that lurks in an apartment building in this amateurish, nearly moleman-free horror comedy. Unfortunately, it's also lacking in horror and comedy. Honestly, it does have a very effective trailer, and watching the trailer makes me want to watch it again. I'm not going to, though.

And finally...

The Gospel According To Philip K. Dick

Conspiracy theories abound in this documentary about the visionary science fiction writer. Unfortunately, the endless interviews of fans, friends, and associates becomes tedious fairly quickly, and the film is not much to look at. The subject matter is fascinating, though.