Wednesday, October 5, 2022

I'm just not in the holiday spirit




My Halloween enthusiasm is at an all time low. Here it is, the 27th day of Halloween, and I've done almost nothing to celebrate. Sure, it's easy to just say Everyday Is Halloween, and I have, but I usually try to officially begin the season on the day summer dies, which is the day after Labor Day. 



Hey, don't get me wrong. I enjoy 15 or 20 minutes of warm weather and sunshine as much as the next person. 

But what I really enjoy is when the swimming pools are drained and barbecue grills are stowed away for the summer, and the Food Network hosts get dressed as Liza Minelli and start hot-gluing livestock to serving plates to create their holiday table-scapes.


So I've only scattered a dozen or so additional candles around the penthouse, and only covered some of the furniture in black shrouds, and only added a few additional skulls where they were needed, and only eaten one box of Halloween Oreos. Out of the Universal Monsters box set, I've only watched The Invisible Man. I've only watched Monsters Crash The Pajama Party once.



The only Halloween-themed vinyl I've listened to is my copy of Spook Show Spectacular A-Go-Go.


I forgot to hang up my folk art witch, I haven't hung up my wreath with the plastic bloody eyeballs, I haven't purchased any festive holiday gourds, I haven't bought any candy corn, and I only have the one container of green Funfetti Frosting with the candy googly eyes. What if I have some sort of Funfetti-related cake emergency? It wouldn't be the first time.


As you can clearly see, I'm completely unprepared for the holiday and I'm undergoing some sort of crisis. Ok, maybe crisis is a bit strong. It's just Halloween, I'm sure I'm fine.


Ok, so maybe there is one little, teensy, tiny issue, and it almost isn't even worth bothering to mention, and no, it wasn't that time I went to the farmer's market and accidentally purchased $18 worth of grapes, although that was extremely delicious and traumatic. 

AKA, The Grapening

Really, fruit shouldn't be $7 a pound. No one needs that much fruit. Grape jam is about $3 a jar, and it's filled with all kinds of grapes. But no, that's not what I'm getting at, even though getting grifted for grapes really gets my goat. 

What I'm getting at is that here in what should be known as The Worst Year Ever For My Health (and not The Grapening), I was recently diagnosed with Spasmodic Dysphonia. It's fine. It's difficult to speak, but it's fine. 


Seriously, don't listen to that meme up there. In the grand scheme, it could be much worse. My voice is shaky and weird, and I get some odd stares. It's no big deal. I'll get some treatment, and I'll be back to yammering on like I usually do. And I'm in good company with Diane Rehm, Linda Thompson, Mary Lou Lord, and Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC, who all have it. So in the meantime, I'm going to hang up that folk art witch, hang up my bloody-eyed wreath, and go buy some candy corn.



Even though it's difficult to communicate, and I haven't posted much lately, I just wanted to take a moment to thank you all for reading this dumb little blog that talks about nearly everything but the thing it's supposed to talk about. I appreciate you all. Talk to you all soon. 


Friday, February 25, 2022

The House That Dripped Blood


As usual, I'm fashionably late to the Hammer-Amicus party. As usual, I have several not-especially good or believable reasons which I'm going to explain in lengthy detail. Before I do any of that, I'd like to thank Gill of Realweegiemidget Reviews and Barry at Cinematic Catharsis for inviting me to contribute to the Third Hammer-Amicus Blogathon in spite of my chronic tardiness. As usual, I'm always touched and flattered that they would include me. So on to the review.


The House That Dripped Blood
 

Speaking of houses, it's a cold and snowy day, and I've been trapped in Deathrage Tower with a particularly nasty case of bronchitis. Between breathless bouts of hacking coughs, wheezing, and gasping, I've been online shopping for items I do not need and watching episodes of Country Life Vlog on Youtube.

 

A couple in Azerbaijan cook outdoors, milk cows, harvest herbs and vegetables, and build things. It's fascinating and mystifying. I would love to be the sort of person who is able to exist in daylight in the great outdoors, doing things and enjoying home-brewed beverages, but after about 17 seconds I would be a shriveled, dehydrated husk from sun poisoning and mosquito bites, surrounded by partially completed and abandoned projects, mummified in a Cocteau Twins t-shirt near a handmade brick oven I was never really going to finish building anyway, and you might as well bury me under those bricks because it's now my tomb. 

Yes, I know this is Otzi the Iceman and he died frozen in the Alps so don't @ me. It's still a mood.

Speaking of Otzi's twisted arm, to add injury to insult I was recently diagnosed with Shoulder Impingement Syndrome in my right shoulder, so I haven't been able to lift my arm above my chest or carry anything heavier than a coffee cup for months, and it has been very irksome, especially since it's extremely important to me to be able to lift several cups of coffee every morning. Well, not at the same time, you know what I mean. A couple of weeks ago I received a steroid shot and began physical therapy, and I've regained motion in it, although it's still pretty weak. Anyway, enough about my physical ailments. Back to the review.


The House That Dripped Blood

Speaking of my body atrophying and decaying into dust, I purchased a new T-shirt from Void Merch, and although I don't really need a 3000th t-shirt, this one aptly describes what it's like to live my life right now.  (Who am I kidding, I'm always in the market for the right t-shirt.)


They have tons of great shirts so head on over and buy one, and follow Dread Singles on twitter @hottestsingles. You'd be cool if you did. So thanks for indulging me, and on to the review.

The House That Dripped Blood

Speaking of drippy houses, I've decided to become a high-powered real estate magnate. I purchased an additional property, and I'm running an AirBNB out of it because I guess I don't have enough to do and I like cleaning up after strangers who have been touching all of my possessions. 

 

In all the twists and turns in my career(s) in the past couple of years, I didn't see scrubbing showers, mopping floors, and smudging for negative energies for a living (Ha!) coming (I usually just do that for fun), but look at me hustle. So far, it seems to be just an ordinary property that doesn't drip blood, unfortunately, and doesn't seem to be haunted by busty female vampires but nothing's perfect I guess, and our guests have been satisfied.  Hopefully soon we'll achieve SuperGhost status. 

Did I just forget to take out the garbage?

Anyway, on to the review. For real this time. Or is it?


The House That Dripped Blood

A horror writer comes to an obviously stigmatized property to write a novel about a strangler, and he wears a white cable-knit cardigan and a Pepto-Bismol pink button-down shirt which distracts. He keeps a skull on his desk in an attempt to create a sinister atmosphere, but I have 4 skulls in my kitchen alone, so make of that what you will. 


Someone eats soft boiled eggs in egg cups. Suddenly, the strangler from the novel appears. He glares from a chair, but through a window it's revealed that he's no specter but just a guy in a mask, sort of like what happened in every episode of Scooby-Doo. 



Or is it just a guy in a mask? 

No, it is. 

Then, a bachelor businessman moves into the house because he now has more time to listen to music and garden, wear a red dressing gown, and stand by duck-filled ponds and put one foot on a stump like Captain Morgan. 


Just when you expected a Captain Morgan meme.

The bachelor goes to the town's Museum Of Horror, which is an interesting but unlikely tourist attraction that somehow survives without charging admission. The interior of the museum isn't particularly terrifying, although the visual interest and Dutch angles jumps up several notches during a dream sequence. A dull friend comes for a dull visit. 

This dream sequence contrasts nicely with my evening apparel.

At this point, I'm becoming drowsy. Then a man is scared of his own child, who has a wax figure of her father which she stabs with pins. The figure gets thrown into the fire, and I nod off in front of the TV.

I awake to the final vignette, where a couple moves into the house, and the husband goes down into the crypt-like basement to find Ingrid Pitt and her plunging décolletage rising from her coffin. Surprising almost no one, I fall asleep in spite of all the vampire happenings.

I know, it's inexplicable. I blame all the bathroom scrubbing.

The House That Dripped Blood is a better than average vignette-style horror film. It has its moments, and it drags in places, which is par for the course for this film format. I recommend staying awake while viewing it, particularly when Ingrid Pitt does her thing.



Thanks again to Gill and Barry for inviting me to the Hammer-Amicus Blogathon and putting up with my shenanigans.


Monday, September 6, 2021

Highlander (1986)

 


I'd like to express my sincere thanks to Gill of Realweegiemidget Reviews for inviting me to the New Romantic Blogathon, because if I'm known for anything, it's my encyclopedic knowledge of frilly shirts, synth pop, and excess. 

Now I know what you're thinking, Stabford has yet again missed the memo. Realweegiemidget Reviews has graciously invited me to the No True Scotsman Blogathon, and I admit I don't know an awful lot about Scotland, Scottish actors, or kilts. However, I do know an awful lot about dodgy accents, extravagant outfits, and music videos disguised as movies, which is why I'm absolutely convinced since I'm reviewing the head-lopping, mid-80s, sword-and-trenchcoat, Scottish noir fantasy Highlander directed by music video auteur Russell Mulcahy, that this blogathon was just itching to be plundered, and here we are. 

Highlander (1986)


Before I get to the review, maybe I should explain a little about what the New Romantic movement was. It was a pop culture movement that lasted about two weeks during the late 1970s and early 1980s, and neither me nor my closet have ever really gotten over it, with my chrome sneakers, collection of various scarves, and unusually high number of skinny ties dating back to Interpol's first record, but that's neither here nor there. Anyway, the New Romantic movement consisted of hair spray, eyeliner, extravagant blouses, shouting the phrase "Shiver me timbers!", and synthesizers, and for the life of me I just can't figure out why it never caught on.

"Ridicule is nothing to be scared of"

Before I get to the review, I'm just going to say that watching Highlander was a little triggering, because it reminded me of all those times during the early 80s when I nonchalantly strolled down damp, foggy Austrian streets as spotlights illuminated my shadow against buildings while I dramatically bundled up my trench coat fashionably around my neck to combat the chill and oops I'm forgetting that I was never in the band Ultravox and the music video to their classic song Vienna was not one of my actual memories.

 

I'm not going to say that I didn't have my share of evenings out in the 80s hopping from nightclub to nightclub in ridiculous outfits; scarved, Aquanetted and eyelinered within an inch of my life, because I did, but unfortunately since it was the early 1980s there are no pictures to confirm this and you'll have to take my word for it that I looked excessive, slightly pirate-y, and amazing. 


What I thought I looked like



What I actually looked like


Anyway, enough about my early-80s penchant for wearing a scarf as a headband, because I mean who didn't go through one of those phases am I right? Let's get back to the review.


Highlander (1986)




The film begins with a little wrestling because that's what you'd expect to find in a Scottish sword movie and because why not. Suddenly, a sword fight breaks out in a parking garage with sweeping crane shots, backflips, and a sword fighter artfully reflected in silver Ray-Ban sunglasses, and you're going to be hard-pressed to find something more quintessentially 80s than that. 




Someone wears a skull headdress and a kilt, and I totally would have worn that when I saw A-ha on their Hunting High And Low Tour in 1986, when I wore a floor-length black trench coat.


In a sea of pastel Benetton cable-knit sweaters, even Morten Harket looked upon me disapprovingly.
 

Suddenly, someone is seen running down an alley with stream escaping from pipes, which means there may have been some sort of plumber shortage during the 80s since this was such a common occurrence. Speaking of common occurrences, someone turns abruptly and dramatically looks at the camera, and there's a shot of just their eyes. 


Signature move

I'm not sure where this film actually takes place, but it's the most amazing location, because everywhere you go during the present day, you hear Queen, and everywhere you go in the past, it looks like the Safety Dance. 


Signature move


Sean Connery arrives dressed in peacock feathers claiming to be from Spain, and his accent makes that seem unlikely. Then he rows a boat and says, "Haggis? What is haggis?".


Codpiece? What is codpiece?

You know, we're a little too early in the review for a codpiece joke. 



Sean Connery wears a red outfit with puffy sleeves, claims he's Egyptian, and sings a song while wearing a codpiece. All this seems very unlikely. Speaking of unlikely, I searched high and low (a ha!) over the internet for "Sean Connery Highlander Codpiece", and there seems to be a lack of images, and that's surprising because it's so conspicuous it probably had its own trailer. 


Looks like he's smuggling a spiral cut ham





Come to think of it, "Connery Codpiece Trailer" sounds like a 1990s indie band that has a hammered dulcimer player.


Suddenly, there's a sword fight that destroys a castle because of course there is.

A bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos makes an appearance, and it's pretty infuriating because I'm off cheese. Apparently, a vintage bag of Nacho Flavored Doritos was on sale on E-bay for $400. There were no chips in it, so I don't see the appeal. The Nacho Cheese Doritos are pretty good, but the Taco Flavored Doritos are my favorite. Speaking of unlikely things, I once had a lengthy discussion with a stranger about Taco Flavored Doritos in the snack aisle at Target because the stranger claimed they were very hard to find, but I pointed at the bag and said, "They're not hard to find, they're right there", and Mrs. Deathrage wandered away in disgust and said she "Didn't want to be indoctrinated into my weird Dorito cult". 

If anyone would like to be indoctrinated into my Weird Dorito Cult™, just Venmo me $5 and you're in.





During a sword fight in another smoky alleyway, there's a sudden machine-gun battle, and all the dancers from Love Is A Battlefield appear.




OK, OK. Even I have to admit that I've wandered far afield on this one if I'm bringing up Love Is A Battlefield. Russell Mulcahy didn't even direct it, and Pat Benatar was never part of the New Romantic movement. I've written myself into a very vague and stylish corner. So, I think what this situation calls for is a video of four minutes of a loop of a man dressed in a Peirrot outfit dancing to Planet Earth by Duran Duran, you know, as a distraction. 



Now that's over, back to the movie. There are trench coats, Miami Vice suits, outlandish earrings, pleated pants, shoulder pads, ludicrously placed zippers, burlap, leather jackets, high waisted jeans, and safety pins.


There's also gratuitous pyrotechnics and people slowly rising up out of the water. 


Signature move


There's also swords that go "Whoosh", kilts, beheadings, Linn Drum, and Fairlight, and I've rambled on long enough. I'm not going down the Fairlight rabbit hole.




Thanks again to Gill for allowing me to participate in the No True Scotsman Blogathon, since this might be the last one she allows me to participate in after this since I haven't mentioned Christopher Lambert once. His accent is just terrible.


Saturday, May 22, 2021

Hercules in the Haunted World

 


Many thanks to Cinematic Catharsis and Realweegiemidget Reviews for inviting me to the Christopher Lee Blogathon. I feel as though I'm really in my element with this blogathon, reviewing a partially-dubbed widescreen sword-&-sandals sort-of-zombie-vampire film where a movie legend appears for about ten whole minutes. That's totally right up my alley! 

Speaking of being right in my element, I might have mentioned that I recently had a mid-life career change. Everything about my career is completely different. I used to stand on my feet all day, stay up way too late, and be extremely cool. Now I sit all day, get up very early, and I'm still extremely cool, but no one appreciates it, and I'm certainly not getting paid for that. I can no longer just skate by on style, sarcasm, withering glares, quirk, and stoicism. I'm now licensed to ACTUALLY KNOW THINGS. Not that I'm complaining. I needed to try something different and learn new skills, and I don't miss my old career in the slightest. 

By the way, Happy World Goth Day to everyone! I'm listening to Bauhaus in celebration. Disclaimer, I've never really been cool, except for a two-week period in 1986, but the bar was set pretty low considering it was 1986.



Speaking of getting up very early, since I now sit at a desk with my big ol' knowing-things brain for 8 hours a day, I've gotten into the habit of rising at dawn and running through the Alps. No, it's not actually the Alps. I've been getting on the NordicTrack and watching a video some dude walking through the Alps while I jog and sweat for about 20 minutes. Sometimes if I'm feeling a little spicy, I'll watch a guy walk through a haunted house while I jog and sweat for about 20 minutes, because isn't that exactly what a video treadmill is good for?


This new found health regimen has had one unfortunate side effect. I might be imagining it, but I'm pretty sure that my calves have become more muscular than my thighs, resulting in my legs looking suspiciously similar to Popeye's arms. 


Well, I could sit here and talk about 15% incline Swiss hikes, unintentional body building, and spinach all day, but let's get on the the movie review.


Hercules In The Haunted World



After a roll in the hay, Hercules' friend pushes his girlfriend in the river. Hercules throws a huge cart and destroys a hay-bearing structure, then there's mournful oboe. I'm not sure why there's so much hay and oboe.

While bathed in rich, colorful lights (which is a remarkable feat for thousands of years ago), Christopher Lee tricks a guy into getting stabbed over a tiara in a strange underground temple. He glares and looks generally bad-ass. GOALS.

SAME. Hey, I might get one of these outfits for myself and wear it to work.

Suddenly, some guy walks up behind Hercules and calls him Achilles as if he hadn't read the script, or maybe he just sort of wandered in from a different shorty-toga movie and got lost. 

Hercules' boat travels through an otherworldly realm that is lit by a sinister red glow, and it reminds me of a completely different candy-colored boat ride, only this one is actually exciting and has a catchy tune.


Suddenly, Hercules throws a giant rock to get a magic apple out of the very top of a dead tree, which is often where magical, mythical fruit grows. 

Suddenly, a rock monster appears. 


It's not very interesting.

Suddenly, Hercules says, "Stop, it's a trap!", and I'm surprised he hadn't realized this whole trip smacks of being a set-up a little earlier.


Suddenly, Hercules goes for a weird, one-armed swim, then he wanders through moaning wicker and climbs over difficult lava. Then Hercules' friend falls into the lava, which has the consistency of chunky soup.


After nearly an hour of screen time, Christopher Lee reappears.


My dude, I KNOW. *starts online shopping for cloaks*

I neglected to mention the masked oracle by a pool. Well, I mentioned it, so you can get off my back about it. 



Some much-needed vague vampirism finally occurs around the 1:07 mark, when Christopher Lee's face is reflected in a pool of blood, which wasn't half bad, really. Zombie-like hands burst forth from their graves and crypts for some reason, and wraiths suspended by strings levitate and swoop past the camera amidst crashing cymbals. Since it's kind of interesting, it only happens for about ten minutes.

Suddenly, Christopher Lee gets thrown by Hercules, then Christopher Lee stabs Hercules with a skeleton hand. On a scale of one-to-ten, I'll give it 5 Dave Vanians, 4 Peter Murphys, and throw in 4 Siouxsie Siouxs for good measure. 









It's my policy to not post spoilers about the ending of the movie. I'm going to break that rule, because your viewing experience can only be enhanced by Christopher Lee bursting into flame. It's pretty sweet, unexpected, and not thoroughly explained. 

Many times during my viewing of Hercules in the Haunted World, I imagined what it might have been like watching the vivid colors of the adventures of Herc and friends on a massive drive-in theater screen. Many times, I also nodded off, because 5 a.m Swiss jogs and stupefying leather toga'd boredom.



Hercules in the Haunted World features lots of scenes of toga'd individuals standing around talking and lots of hay. Hercules throws a bunch of stuff. There's a weird Goldilocks conflict over bed sizes featuring a rubber-suited rock monster. Hercules is only in the haunted realm for about 15 minutes, and Christopher Lee barely appears. The lighting is fabulous, though.



Thanks again to Barry and Gill for inviting me to the blogathon!

Monday, March 8, 2021

Wild Women Of Chastity Gulch


I'd like to begin this post by thanking RealweegieMidget Reviews for inviting me to this blogathon. Even though I have very little knowledge of the career of Joan Collins and I often completely disregard the movie I'm reviewing anyway, it's always nice to be included. And with every one of my blogathon blogposts, I'm convinced this will be the last one anyone invites me to. So thanks again, and let's get this wagon train a-rollin'.


The Wild Women Of Chastity Gulch

Ok, before we get to the review, let me explain a few things, because this wouldn't be a Stabford review without a couple of ducks, dodges, parries, and turns before I get really, really off-track.


At the beginning of 2021, IRL I decided to quit my job of 15 years and start in a completely new industry which requires licensing and lots and lots of studying. As usual, even though I knew about the blogathon for months, I was unable to watch the movie until a few minutes before the blogathon was supposed to begin. I also came to the unexpected realization that the entire film is unavailable for streaming, and only 30 minutes of it is anywhere, and it's a dreadful VHS rip, with atrocious image quality and tracking lines and image rolling. That certainly didn't stop me from enjoying the movie thoroughly in an it's-so-bad-it's-good kind of way because if you're going to watch something awful, you might as well pull out all the stops, hold your nose and jump in, and that's just how I roll.

So back to the review.

The Wild Women Of Chastity Gulch




So, like I said a minute ago, I only watched 30 minutes of the film, which is one of those early-80s Aaron Spelling Sunday Night TV-movies, and the fact it's an Aaron Spelling Production is probably the only reason it was made and broadcast at all, since from what I can tell The Wild Women Of Chastity Gulch's plot consists of only a lurid title, extravagantly frilly gowns, and cleavage.

The setting of the film is a town in either Civil War-era Missouri or an amusement park in Southern California I guess, and all the menfolk are off fighting in the war, leaving the town empty except for about two dozen working ladies in the town's brothel and inexplicably, Donny Osmond. 


In the brief clip I watched, the movie opens with poor Joan Collins catching a terminal case of vague heart-related death. Immaculately costumed, hair and purple eyeshadow on point, Joan Collins looks fantastic for someone wasting away, which I certainly can find no fault in. When I kick the bucket, at my funeral I'll need video screens, lasers, a backdrop, a DJ, and one of those grocery store "all occasion" cakes with huge, blue frosting roses on it where a touching and sentimental reminiscence about my life is written on it in gorgeous script. 

 

Me too, cake. Me too.  


So, speaking of fatigued cakes, Joan Collins breathily asks for a gin from her vaguely germanic caretaker, which reminds me of an unrelated Teutonic Titwillow. 


Then Joan Collins looks longingly into a hand mirror before expiring offscreen, and someone says, "Her heart gave out on her, Betsy. She's dead.", and I totally get it. I'm gonna check my look before checking out, too. I absolutely refuse to go gentle into that good night without looking my very best, although I might swoon on a chaise lounge for effect.

Joan's very watchable, and I almost wish I could've seen more of her performance, but that would probably mean watching more of this movie, which plays like a low-budget Aaron Spelling Production of Donny and Marie's (minus Marie) Matt Houston's Gone With The Wind, and wow, that's sounds unappealing, and it was appalling to type out in words.

Speaking of Donny and Marie, some more movie happens although I kind of wished it wouldn't, and suddenly Donny Osmond plays a wounded soldier being nursed back to health in the brothel. He gives a breathy, dramatic performance that bewilders and has a chaste kiss with Blair from Facts Of Life. 

If you've been wondering why Donny Osmond never got more dramatic roles, this movie might be the reason. 

Speaking of the movie, more of it happens, unfortunately. The livery stable burns, pistols are pulled from décolletage, there's some target practice in ruffled gowns to stretch for time, and soldiers look off pensively into the distance. The print I watched stuttered and skipped during a key scene which culminated in Three's Company's Priscilla Barnes throwing her body across the freshly dug grave of Joan Collins' character, and it honestly couldn't have been more perfect. 

I don't blame you one bit, Priscilla Barnes. Not one bit.


The sets look a lot like Knott's Berry Farm, and the music sounds like what would happen if Charlie's Angels was set in Gettysburg. Speaking of Knott's Berry Farm, there's a not-quite-thrilling action sequence with cowboys falling off horses, soldiers being dragged by horses, and horses jumping over wagons with pistol-packin' Old West prostitutes cowering under them, and let's just say it all seemed a little less than genuine. 

Speaking of something being a little bit country and a little bit rock-n-roll, this bit needs another Donny and Marie clip. If there's anything people clamor for in their movie reviews of Joan Collins, if it isn't Donny and Marie, then I don't know what. Do we have another clip? Oh yes. Yes we do.

Like I said, in the print I watched, Joan Collins is in the movie for 30 seconds. That's ok, sometimes actors can make a huge impact in a very brief appearance, like that time on Will and Grace when Joan Collins stuffed tacos in her face and was covered in guacamole.


It takes a lot of bravery to go against type and allow yourself to be seen outside an image of glamour and sophistication for laughs, so this appearance in Will and Grace always stuck with me. 

Anyway, The Wild Women Of Chastity Gulch was hardly wild. It was filled with horses, transient southern accents, and plunging necklines, and it should be avoided. 




Thanks again to RealweegieMidget Reviews for allowing me to participate in the Joan Collins Blogathon!

Looking forward to the next one!



I've got a few videos over at Youtube through Cultured Vultures if you like these sorts of reviews, so check 'em out if you want.