Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Cave Of The Living Dead

An inspector from Interpol investigates strange deaths in a German village in this boring horror film. Featuring kettles cooking something over open fires, accordions, and whittling, very few caves appear until the 35-minute mark. Almost no "living dead" appear, unless you call bouffant-wearing chicks lying very still with their eyes open counting as "living dead", and then there's a few of those, but it's nothing really to write home about. Turns out the living dead chicks are vampires, and it's very confusing when one of the living dead vampire chicks crushes a guy by throwing a papier-mache boulder at him, which is probably the first time I've ever seen a vampire do that. I mean, I could understand if she was trying to make him into a smoothie, but she didn't even try to drink his blood.

At this point, I was going to insert an Orange Julius commercial, but I can't seem to find one, although I didn't try very hard.

Anyway since it's nearly Halloween, here's a vintage commercial for the Thingmaker Creepy Crawlers toy from the 60s for no reason whatsoever other than the fact that I would pay good money for a Thingmaker Creepy Crawler toy and an Orange Julius.

Anyway, I couldn't find a trailer for Cave Of The Living Dead, but here are some other trailers of interest.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Plastic Galaxy

The history of Star Wars toys is examined in this enlightening documentary. Discussing the early problems with manufacturing and distribution due to overwhelming demand, I had no idea the Kenner toy company sold an early figurine coupon, which shipped toys to consumers after the film was released but before the toys were actually manufactured. I enjoyed the scenes of grown men reminiscing about how they played with their toys, and showing precious, broken toys saved after 30 years. The scenes of prototypes, actual props from the film, vintage toy commercials, and blueprints for toy ideas that remained on the drawing board were also fascinating. Plastic Galaxy: The Story Of Star Wars Toys is a well-made, interesting look at the toys surrounding the iconic films.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Stranger

A mysterious man, searching for an old friend, arrives in a town plagued by drugs, violence, and bad cops in this compelling, grim, and dramatic Chilean horror film. An update and modernization of the vampire mythos as though the Twilight series never happened, The Stranger is bloody, violent, and surprising. With many striking images, such as the moment after a teenage receives a savage beating, a ground-level shot looking up at his Molotov cocktail-wielding attackers, the sound of tinnitus ringing in his ears, a great scene as the stranger douses himself and a woman handcuffed to a rooftop fire escape with gasoline, a ground-level shot of gory corpse's jeans drenched in blood and covered in hay, and a grisly shot of crispy 3rd degree burns under bloody, oozing bandages, The Stranger is well-shot, with visually interesting cinematography.

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Cradle Of Shadows

A crew of French paranormal investigators investigates a vague haunting and walks slowly down the partially lit hallways of a sort-of abandoned bunker while carrying flashlights in this sort-of horror film. Featuring handheld nausea cam, the explorers come to a bunker where a worker has disappeared, and using their ghost-hunting equipment, find a bra. After walking around the labyrinthine bunker with their flashlights, they discover someone has destroyed their equipment. It's not very interesting. One of the team-members searches a flooded tunnel and decides to go for a swim. I'm not sure why. Finally, the crew sees an apparition at the 38-minute mark. Unfortunately, we the viewers don't get to see it, because the film-makers resort to the cliched cheat of going back to the handheld nausea cam to avoid showing us what the crew saw, which means that the camera shakes violently so the viewer can't see it's just a woman in a lacy dress with a long black wig. It's pretty derivative of Samara in Ringu, and it isn't very interesting. The crew discovers a Nazi laboratory, and the way everyone can tell it's a Nazi laboratory is because of the Adolf Hitler poster that's hung on the wall. The team realizes that the Nazis created mutants in the bunkers, and then something important happens because the handheld nausea cam shakes violently. What happened? I'm not sure. More footage of the cast walking down tunnels carrying flashlights happens for the rest of the movie, the camera shakes a lot, and the film enigmatically ends. There's a brief shot of dangling entrails, but it's nothing to write home about, and I'm not sure why anyone would write home about entrails. Featuring unconvincing acting, an incoherent script that can't decide if it's a story about a ghost or monsters, terrible cinematography, a generic nu-metal score, and a complete lack of scares or cradles,  The Cradle Of Shadows bores and confuses. Avoid it as if you're being chased by mutants.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I Am Big Bird

The man inside the bird is profiled in this poignant, bittersweet documentary. The career of Caroll Spiney is outlined in great detail, from the beginning of his career on the Bozo show and throughout his iconic role of Big Bird on Sesame Street. The apparatus used to operate the Big Bird puppet is surprisingly complicated, as Spiney manipulates Big Bird's arms and mouth, walks about blind, all while watching the world outside the suit on a monitor strapped to his chest within the suit. It's amazing to watch.

Featuring many touching moments from Sesame Street, vintage clips shown include the classic episode when Big Bird has to process the death of Mr. Hooper, behind the scenes footage from the groundbreaking film Big Bird In China, and the funeral of Jim Henson, when Big Bird sings "It Isn't Easy Being Green".

Did you know that Big Bird was invited to ride on the Space Shuttle, and barely escaped death as he was too big to ride on the Challenger? Neither did I. Whoa.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Life And Crimes Of Doris Payne

The life of the notorious jewel thief is examined in this documentary. A compelling look at a brilliant female criminal whose mentality of 'I'm not giving it back', which she does not equate with stealing, gives her the persona of 'The Trickster', or someone who is breaking societal rules. Through sleight of hand and distraction, she has stolen expensive jewels around the world, and created for herself a very long rap sheet. In a trial versus Macy's, she vehemently denies involvement in a jewel heist in spite of incriminating video footage. Elegant, charming, funny, charismatic, and utterly convincing, if at least to herself, she smiles mischievously in the face of a long jail sentence. Having escaped prison once, she seems unimpressed by the threat. In the Monte Carlo Cartier Heist during the 1960s, she boldly claimed she was Otto Preminger's wife, walked out of prison, and was forced to go on the lam. The Life And Crimes Of Doris Payne is a fascinating look at a calculating, remorseless, and unforgettable career criminal.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


The world of competitive eating is examined in this documentary. Featuring a guy who can eat a large pizza in under two minutes, and another guy who projectile vomits a gallon of water, and the legendary eater Kobayashi who once ate 55 cow brains, Hungry details the drama behind competitive eating contests. Many competitors must sign complicated contracts, and aren't allowed to compete in unauthorized contests. This severely limits their pay, and breaking their contracts often gets them banned from competition. The film also highlights some of the health risks associated with competitive eating, such as ruptures, aspirations, and the rarely discussed issue of purging. Hungry was an interesting documentary, but probably shouldn't be viewed on a full stomach.

The Search For General Tso

The hunt for the elusive namesake behind the ubiquitous dish is examined in this documentary. I like Chinese food, but I've actually never had this dish. I've always been a fan of noodle dishes, myself.  I'd always assumed that General Tso's was a spicier version of Sweet & Sour Chicken, which I've never cared for because of the ketchup. Unfortunately, The Search For General Tso could have been easily summed up in about 15 minutes, by explaining the story behind General Tso. I learned that the real General Tso, an actual 19th century Chinese general, would've found the Americanized dish surprising, as he wanted Western culture out of China, and Hunan cuisine rarely combines sweet and savory elements in a dish. The dish was invented by Chef T. T. Wang in 1972, and he prepared a simple Hunan chicken dish and added sugar to appeal to Western palates. There's the answer. Oops, sorry, Spoiler Alert. Anyway, The Search For General Tso was interesting and informative, but even at a mere 73 minutes felt padded and overlong.

An Honest Liar

The life and career of legendary magician and paranormal debunker The Amazing Randi is examined in this bittersweet documentary. Well-shot and edited, An Honest Liar illuminates Randi's life in unexpected ways, from footage of his exploits breaking Houdini's escape records to his same-sex relationship with an artist who isn't exactly who he says he is. Simultaneously touting openness while playing his cards close to the vest, Randi exposes the truth and tries to shove an ace up his sleeve.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Spawn Of The Slithis

A radioactive creature preys on winos and housepets in this 1970s low-budget horror film. After some children play some absurd slo-mo frisbee down by the creek, they stumble upon a mutilated dog.  Suddenly, Slithis, an absurd rubber-suited monster that looks like a calamari appetizer on two legs, goes for a breathy walk. It breaks through a screen door and attacks a bickering couple in their home in front of their print of Seurat's A Sunday On La Grande Jatte, and not a moment too soon, and then a cop eats a cough drop. Some dubious science ensues, as someone admires jars filled with dead things floating in murky liquids, and two people play backgammon while a man is attired in a chambray jumpsuit. Suddenly, the Slithis attacks a wino. It's not very interesting. Because the Slithis has graduated from killing housepets to art lovers to winos, the fuzz starts to shake down the local cultists in the area because why not. Then the guy in the chambray jumpsuit dons a straw fedora to discuss $5 wines with the local transients, and even the transients ridicule him. Then he talks with a guy with a melty face who lives in a geodesic dome because why not, then there's a bit of turtle racing. A comically overacting police lieutenant overacts, then a station wagon goes airborne. Spawn Of The Slithis bores, but it's slightly recommended if you like terrible fashion choices or stuff that sucks.