Saturday, October 15, 2016

To Cathie, who unfortunately was once again unable to attend the All Night Horror Show

October 15, 2016

Dear Cathie,

How are you? Oh, what am I talking about -- I know how you're doing because I know you just recently celebrated a very special anniversary. Yup, it's been one year since you received a letter from me about the New Beverly Cinema's yearly horror movie marathon! Please keep your composure, it is a very emotional time for all of us, I'm sure. But I will try to keep the tears of joy from flowing if you can do the same.

Circumstances beyond your control with all of the control going to the powerful cold mistress of Fate kept you from attending this, the 9th Annual All Night Horror Show, and I fear that next year perhaps someone else will be writing me about the 10th. I say this because this year's tickets were sold out online in under a minute -- 45 seconds, if I heard correctly from marathon hosts Brian Quinn and Phil Blankenship -- and so it has gotten to the point that by next year, seats could go to someone else aside from yours truly if for no other reason than I was a millisecond too slow on the trigger.

But that is to worry about next year! For now, let us -- let me -- tell you how it went down last Saturday.

Quinn/Blankenship welcomed the packed house and asked us how many were attending this thing for the first time, and I swear nearly half the place raised hands/cheered, which was cool because that meant so many people were going to have this new experience and hopefully they would enjoy it. But then there was this other dark part of me that didn't want them to like it, anything that would cut down on ticket competition for the following year. A purely selfish thought to have, I know, but I shook it off immediately and remembered that "you can't always get what you want", to quote a song by a world famous band that's made millions upon millions of dollars and made millions of fans and are loved everywhere and have gotten everything they -- YOU KNOW WHAT? THE ROLLING STONES CAN KISS MY ASS WITH THAT BULLSHIT ALONG WITH THAT ARBY'S HAT WEARING SON-OF-A-BITCH PHARRELL WITH HIS "HAPPY" SONG.

Rather than focus on films that have been screened/seen ad nauseam around this time of year, Quinn/Blankenship picked stuff that hadn't been screened in L.A. for at least ten or twelve years, or never made it out to the city at all, or if they did, they were very limited releases, or they went straight to video and never had an official theatrical release. We wouldn't know the titles of the six films chosen until they played on screen. (Phil: "I will give one hint, though: there are *six* Police Academy movies.")

We were given a way to guess the films via the trailers screened before each one; before the first film, we saw trailers for Lucifer's Women, Rosemary's Baby, To the Devil a Daughter, Satan's Cheerleaders, and House of the Devil. It had to be something involving Ol' Scratch one way or the other, and sure enough the first film of the night was 1975's Race with the Devil, about a couple of Texan Men taking their Texan Ladies on a road trip to Aspen, Colorado.

To be real with you, I would've been fine watching a movie about these characters going to Aspen and back, and I don't think it's necessarily because the characters are so interesting but because the actors playing them are Peter Fonda and Warren Motherfucking Oates. Clearly I'm not alone in this thought because those two starred in three films together (the others being The Hired Hand and 92 in the Shade), but this one not only has them, it also has Loretta Swit and Lara Parker and Satan worshippers and a sweet RV so this movie is filled with all kinds of Right On.

No joking about that RV; even in its dated state nowadays, I found it impressive. It had a color TV with a good antenna and the sound system had four channels! People in the audience laughed at that the way people now laugh when Argyle in Die Hard goes on about the limo having "everything" like a CD player, CB radio, analog television and a VHS player. Me, I get wistful for a time when we were just as scared shitless then as we are now, only now we know how the past worked out so it looks much better in retrospect.

VHS and square televisions might have gone out of style, but bringing uninvited guests will always be in fashion. Por ejemplo, Oates is showing off his RV to Fonda and then we hear a noise -- it turns out Fonda and his wife brought along their dog for the ride. What fucking balls to do that -- to plan out a road trip with your homie and the motherfucker never thought to let you know about the four-legged stowaway until it was too late. It wasn't even a real dog, you know, a big dog like a German Shepherd or a Boxer or a Phoebe, it was one of those little dogs but not too little. Small enough to get easily smooshed but not small enough to carry in your purse, where it would presumably shit all over your gum and tampons.

This movie would make a good double feature with Judgment Night; both are tales about why you shouldn't drive your RV off the beaten path on the way to your destination because it will result in you and your people witnessing something you shouldn't have seen which then means you're going to be chased by those who prefer to remain unseen. In the case of this flick, our Texans witness a human sacrifice and because this was a White girl and not some illegal border crosser, this is a bad thing to them. This bad thing gets worse because even though they get away and report the incident to the cops, the rest of their trip is now tainted with traces of Fucking Unsettling. Every stranger is now even stranger-er and the film does a great job in making you feel that everyone our characters run into could be Satanists as well.

I like how the film starts out as a good ol' boy fuckaround, goes into horror, shifts into a paranoia tale, turns back into horror, then goes straight out 70s car-crash actioner in the final stretch. Regarding that last section, the audience would frequently burst into cheers and applause. I think it was both seeing the baddies getting theirs while also seeing some genuine old school Holy Shit car stunts done by real stuntmen, probably some real Hooper types, you know? Like, I bet there was a lot of drinking going on after every shooting day with these stuntmen. I imagine a lot of bottles were shot at too in their off time, and no one gave a shit or called the cops because guns in 70s Texas were probably like iPhones in L.A. -- who *doesn't* have one? Well, me, for one. I roll with an Android, but I think you get what I'm saying, right?

Race with the Devil was written by Lee Frost and Wes Bishop, which meant nothing to me back when I first saw this in 2007 at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica, but a few months later a series of double-feature DVDs came out called "Welcome to the Grindhouse" (remember that brief period in '07 when we all thought the movie Grindhouse was gonna be huge and suddenly you had DVD sets like that one and "The Grindhouse Experience" and other similar attempts at cashing in?) and it seemed like half of those movies were written & directed by Frost and Bishop.

They had a pretty good run with these 70s exploitation joints and Devil is really a big-budget studio version of those kinds of films -- and it would've been more like those kinds of films if Frost hadn't been fired as director. The studio ended up bringing in Jack Starrett (aka that asshole Galt from First Blood) who I feel doesn't get enough love as a director, at least it seems that way to me. I think only Tarantino (of course) has sung his praises for flicks like this and The Gravy Train aka The Dion Brothers, which I went to see back in 2007 at the Aero Theatre as part of a double feature. That film was written by Terrence Malick under a pseudonym, but the second film, Race with the Devil was written by Lee Frost and Wes Bishop -- IT'S ALL CONNECTED, MAN!

A raffle followed and prizes like comic books, shirts, collectibles, and Blu-rays were given away. We then watched a classic Popeye cartoon called "Ghosks is the Bunk" followed by another trailer reel: The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies, Muscle Beach Party, Psycho Beach Party (featuring Amy Adams!), Blood Beach, The Beach Girls and the Monster.

I started putting two and two together with the beach parties and monsters and began to get a sinking feeling. I whispered said sinking feeling to my friend and my fear became reality when the second film of the evening turned out to be The Horror of Party Beach from 1964. My reason for sinkin' was that I had seen the film before on "Mystery Science Theater 3000" and so I assumed it was going to be one of those Manos: The Hands of Fate situations where it would be even tougher to watch a terrible movie in its un-riffed state. But hey, at least the print looked really spiffy! I said to myself.

So you have all these young gals and guys doing the beach thing in the East Coast (somewhere not too far from New York), dancing to a group called The Del-Aires and/or fighting on the sand over women who are just not worth it. Meanwhile, this town must have a 60s equivalent to Terry Silver living nearby because a bunch of radioactive waste is being dumped into the water and all over the skeletal remains of what I'm assuming was someone who snitched on the local mafiosi long ago -- anyway, the toxic sludge-plus-skeletons-plus-whatever else was living under the sea end up forming into a new kind of life: walking bug-eyed scaly creatures with super-sized sausages permanently taking up residence in their wide-open maws. I'd feel sorry for these ugly/awkward things were it not for their taste for human blood.

Because this is a monster movie made long ago, these creatures prefer their blood to come from women and for the most part I think the movie has a little bit of the "eh, these bitches were asking for it" attitude. Like, this entire slumber party gets attacked and this was after we see them tee-hee'ing about the prank they were gonna pull on some visiting boys. Then later in the film we follow three independent Noo Yawkah types as they drive into town in their convertible and flirt with the poor gas station attendant who ends up ejaculating his sexual arousal all over the place except this is a movie and they can't be literal about that shit, so instead it's done with him accidentally pumping too much gas into the car and spilling it all over.

At the beginning of the film, we're introduced to our main dude Hank, and he's just about had it with his girl Tina for having fun. They argue, she tries to get him pissed off by getting some other dude's attention, a fight breaks out between the two dudes, then the two dudes go their separate ways, leaving the lovely lady in the lurch. So off she goes for a swim to, I don't know, find something out there to keep her nether regions occupied. Well, honey, I hope you like hot dogs because here comes a monster with a mouth full of them. Much screaming and bloody pawing ensues.

In this movie -- and hell, most of these kinds of movies -- if you are a girl who busts some dude's balls or intends to in any kind of way, you're gonna be punished for it. On the other hand, if you are a nice girl who needs a man, you'll probably do OK and live a nice long life like our chick Elaine. Tina's body is not even cold and Elaine is telling her scientist father about how she feels all weird because suddenly she's catching feelings for her late friend's boyfriend and ol' Dad straight up hits her back with "Because he's free now?" and holy shit we all laughed out loud in the audience.

Hell, we laughed quite a bit throughout this one; I'm happy to report that the movie is entertaining enough on its own without Mike and the Bots making quippy comments towards it. It's a goofy low-budget movie -- like many of its time -- but also features some surprisingly nice visual compositions and editing every once in a while. Also, there's the housekeeper Eulabelle who has more sense than anyone else in the movie and as far as I'm concerned is the goddamn hero of this movie, since she pretty much is the reason the scientist finds a way to kill the monsters.

I'm just bummed for poor Tina, a girl after my own heart -- she liked to party and then she'd give you some alone time when you needed it. Sure, she would spend that time in the arms of another man, but hey, they can't all be perfect.

One more raffle followed and I didn't win anything so of course BOO All Raffles, right? The following trailer reel consisted of Clive Barker joints: Hellbound: Hellraiser II; Nightbreed -- and that's when I thought "Cool, I wonder which Clive Barker film we're gonna watch?" Then the trailer for Midnight Meat Train came up. "OK, so I guess not that one. Maybe Lord of Illusions? Or Candyman? Or maybe one of the other Hellraisers? Hopefully the first or second." Candyman and Lord of Illusions were the next trailers. "Uh, hmm. Well maybe it'll be the third Hellraiser, that wouldn't be so bad. Hell I'm willing to accept the fourth one or even the ones that went straight to video. I mean as long as it's not --"

When the title Rawhead Rex filled the screen I found myself shouting FUCK! in my mind while most of the audience applauded and cheered even though they cheered for every movie because everybody's all happy to be there. Let's freeze frame on my disappointed face and go back in time to explain why:

So I'm at work, right, and as per usual I'm listening to a podcast through my earbuds because for some reason my co-workers love talking to me about the every day bullshit going on in their lives. I never asked for that but there we go. The day before the marathon I had been listening to an episode of the Outside the Cinema podcast and they just happened to be reviewing Rawhead; they trashed it mercilessly. I was familiar with the film, having seen bits and pieces of it on local television years ago while I was playing with my Ninja Turtles or something. I don't remember giving much of a shit; I only remembered the titular monster looking both cool and goofy at the same time, oh and I remembered reading about how Clive Barker wrote the screenplay to the film (based on one of his "Books of Blood" stories) and hated the final result. Later I found out that this was the second time director George Pavlou directed a Barker screenplay; the previous was a film called either Underworld or Transmutations and Barker hated that one too. Holy shit. Fool you once, Clive....

So now let's get back to me at the New Bev and un-freeze frame that shit to me shouting FUCK! in my mind while everybody else around me cheered. I thought: OK, here we go, a movie I recently heard about being terrible but let's just keep an open mind and maybe we'll get through it all right and hell, I might just like it. 

The movie takes place in a town in Ireland where some guys try to knock over this huge stone pillar, unaware that the pillar wasn't just sticking out of the ground, it was keeping our titular pre-Christian demon underground where he's been stewing, man, just stewing over having his big time spot taken by a couple of perpetrators named God and Jesus. Well, now he's out and about and is making everyone shout right before he claws them and bites their faces off looking like an 80s metal album cover on bath salts and I think the filmmakers missed an opportunity to get some band to compose the music score to this film, at least whenever Rawhead showed up. It would've been so cool to watch Rawhead burst through a door while some long-haired coked-out vocalist high-pitches his best over some hardcore shredding on the gee-tar.

Instead you have that oh-so-orchestral score as Rawhead knocks over tables and shelves all half-assed like Tommy Wiseau at the end of The Room, and when he's not doing that he stalks all around town because you know he's automatically attracted to humans -- he just starts killing them. It's like a magnet. Just kill. He doesn't even wait. And when you're a powerful demon god, they let you do it, you can do anything. Grab them by the neck. You can do anything.

Even though the hero in this is some dude who kinda looked like Steve from "Married...with Children", my favorite character has to be this priest named Declan who is introduced leading his parish in hymns and looking very much like someone going through the motions. Then he puts his hand on the altar which apparently doubles as a griddle (for pancake breakfast fundraisers, I reckon) because some asshole forgot to turn it off so now not only is Declan's hand filled with burning pain but his soul is filled with the unholy ghost -- and his mouth should be filled with soap for all the swearing he lets loose with throughout the film.

Yup, Declan is all about the Rex-Dawg now and it's fucking hilarious. It's like watching Rev. Lovejoy in "The Simpsons" when he was convinced the Movementarians were "the real thing" and suddenly he's not about The Jesus anymore. Like Lovejoy, he gets rid of his clerical collar. Unlike Lovejoy, Declan allows his new God to baptize him R. Kelly style, all happy about it. Later on, Declan's boss, the good Reverend Coot, finds out about his new alliance with Rex and asks him something like "What is he going to do with you when he's finished with you?" and Declan responds with "KILL ME! (then he closes his eyes and gets all tingly inside) I HOOOOOPE!" because this is what happens when you don't let priests get married. They get so hard up they're either diddling the altar boys or working up some pre-cum over the possibility that their new Pagan God boyfriend is going to murder them.

Hooray for lowered expectations, because I found this watchable. Would I watch it again? Fuck no. But it didn't hurt during those ninety minutes. The monster has funny eyes and I can see why Barker was the opposite of pleased with the cinematic look of his literary creation -- or the cinematic everything of his literary creation. There are some good lines here and there, and there are elements that certainly feel Barker-esque (like the Declan character), but except for the nutty climax it all feels like it's being performed in the key of Blah.

We saw a Laurel & Hardy short called "The Live Ghost" where our boys play a couple of fuckin' crimps who make some money shanghai-ing sailors and we all laughed as the unconscious sailors were dumped into the cargo hold, one on top of the other, and you know that shit was real and bones were probably broken but fuck 'em -- they didn't have unions on set in those days, I bet.

Then we saw a trailer reel that had me guessing this was going to be a Mario Bava joint because the trailers were all for Mario Bava joints: Black Sabbath; Evil Eye; Baron Blood. Then the last two trailers -- Friday the 13th parts 1 and 2 -- helped me narrow my guess for the fourth film of the night, and so I whispered the title to my friend, who at this point was fucking DONE with the hot fetid breath of the douchebag next to him hitting his ear: the 1971 Italian film A Bay of Blood (aka Twitch of the Death Nerve aka Carnage aka so many other akas). Phil told us that he had been wanting to screen this film for the marathon for nine years and it took that long to find the absolute best print for it and it sure looked fantastic.

People who kill people are the killing-est people in the world -- that's the name of the game here. The film takes place in and around a property off the bay; you have this old rich lady in her wheelchair looking lonely, but don't cry for her, she'll have plenty of company soon in the afterlife thanks to some dude who suicides her. That dude then gets stabbed to death and the rest of the movie is just one person after another getting taken out hard -- in one case, literally hard, as he and his lady are skewered while doing the horizontal mambo.

You know what, if I was suddenly killed right now I would be deserving of it for using "horizontal mambo", but don't get me wrong, I'm not Declan from the last movie, I'm not hoping for that to happen to me so allow me to apologize for that, Cathie -- just in case you have the same kind of inclination to Bay of Blood the fuck out of people who annoy you.

I don't remember where I first saw this -- I want to say it was late at night on some UHF channel back in the day, maybe it was that "Horror Kung Fu Theatre" program hosted by The Nightshadow? -- I just know I've seen it before. A Bay of Death Carnage is brought up most of the time in movie geek circles as the grandfather or godfather or much older pervy uncle to the slasher genre; some of the kills here were in fact straight up jacked and used in the first two Friday the 13ths, which is why we saw trailers to those movies in the reel. When I finally caught this film I had already been well-acquainted with how Jason Voorhees got down, so I was surprised with how effective -- no, *more* effective the murders were here. Mainly it's because Mario Bava is a much better director than Sean S. Cunningham or Steve Miner -- in addition to the stylishly shot kills, homeboy is great at atmosphere and tension and all that.

(To be fair, I don't know if Bava could've made My Father the Hero or Forever Young any better than Miner, but even if he couldn't, it would've been an impressive effort given that Bava would've already been dead for over twenty years by then.)

In addition to atmosphere, I think there's also how music is used differently between Blood Twitch Nerve and Friday the 13th; in the latter you have Harry Manfredini's famous ki ki ki ma ma ma whispers and heavy use of strings and stings underscoring the hapless camp counselors inevitable bloody fates whereas in the former you have, well, most of the time you don't really get anything music-wise from Stelvio Cipriani. I remember one kill that had some pulse-pounding chase music leading up to it, otherwise what little music there is usually won't cue up until after someone is dead, and even then there's nothing Horror about it. It's unsettlingly lovely, sounding more sad and serene rather than sharp and scary.

This movie belongs in the 70s Italian horror sub-genre I like to call Quiet As Fuck For The Most Part; I don't know if it's a result of being dubbed and not adding much foley work to the proceedings or if that's how Bava wanted it to sound but yeah, this is one of those where the only thing you can really hear in this movie is the dialogue in between the dim hissing in the background. It's the kind of movie that you'll probably raise the volume so you can hear what the characters are saying better and then suddenly glass will break and it will be the loudest glass breaking sound effect you've ever heard and you're frantically reaching for the volume control while cursing yourself for watching this in the middle of the night with your window open so now your nosy retired neighbor is already turning his light on and reaching for the ol' Ruger SP101 .357 Magnum.

The kills are good, the women look good, the music is good, and the ending is better than good -- it's fucking hilarious. Also, some asshole fisherman chomps on a fuckin' squid he just pulled out of the water and I bet it's some macho Italian thing, it's not enough for him to gobble up some calamaaaaaaar(i) at the local ristorante. Whatever. If you can only see one Mario Bava film in your life, then you are going to die having missed out on even more good shit out there.

I don't quite recall correctly, given that I waited too fucking long to write about this, but I think it was at this point that Quinn/Blankenship and company brought out donuts for everyone to enjoy. Tempting as it was, I ended up not partaking in all that sweet sweetness for fear of the eventual sugar crash before the end of the marathon. As I'm sure I've mentioned before, what helps me get through these marathons (which is getting tougher for me as I get older) is to keep it light in the food department and pace myself when it comes to caffeine and other stimulants.

So once I saw what we were all in line for, I got out of line to go outside and get some fresh air and that's where I saw a gentleman by the name of Andrew with a lady by the name of Elle (I will keep their last names secret out of a sudden irrational fear that overcame me just right now that somehow being associated with this blog will hurt them in their respective careers, because really, what kind of degenerate do you have to be to be connected to me -- right Cathie?). Andrew confirmed that she was indeed The Elle and so there we were.

Elle is the lady who bestowed the name "Princess Sparkle" upon me on Twitter years ago during EFC version 1.0 but I never met her until now -- then -- that night. I said Hi and then I said Bye and she was nice and he was nice and even in that brief exchange I overstayed my welcome. But it was good to see her and close another chapter in that particular book.

Quinn/Blankenship let us know that as per usual, the last two films would be presented back-to-back with no breaks. The trailers preceding the fifth film were all early 80s school slasher films like The Dorm that Dripped Blood (aka Pranks); Graduation Day; Final Exam; The Mutilator (aka Fall Break); and the spoof Student Bodies. Then the Vestron Pictures logo came up which caused damn near everyone to cheer because that's the kind of geeks we are, the kind who know Vestron means Good Times. The film was Slaughter High (aka April Fool's Day), which I had only seen the final twenty minutes of on TNT or TBS a long time ago, back when those channels used to show cool shit late at night. (Or maybe it was USA's "Up All Night"?) Since then, I've only heard about it mentioned by horror geeks on horror geek websites and such, so it was cool to finally watch the whole thing.

This is a movie that takes place in a strange high school filled with people who are so scholastically challenged that they've been held back over and over for at least ten years, which would explain why they would do something as stupid as prank the everlasting fuck out of the nerd-in-resident, some schmuck named Marty. It wasn't enough that they leave him with blue balls after making him think he's gonna get some from Caroline Munro (playing one of the assholes, not as Caroline Munro), they also pull some extra heinous shit that ends with him getting even more hot and bothered, only in a literal-type way, as he ends up getting a little acid fire action. Dude ends up getting plastic surgery for about six months or so, meaning he's gonna have an even harder time trying to get laid.

I couldn't tell you if that ever happens for him, because the movie doesn't tell us. Instead it flashes forward to the high school whatever-year-reunion -- the students are probably in their mid-forties by now -- and as we re-meet all of these assholes, we (me) notice a couple things: first, most of them carry with them a heavy air of The Best Years of My Life Were Ten Years Ago (with the exception of Munro's working actress character), and second, they don't have the best grasp on their fake American accents.

That's probably because this was a British production that tries to fool us by planting American flags around the campus, but they might as well have kept the Union Jack up on those poles because everyone to varying degrees of un-success will end certain words with a different inflection than most of us Yanks are accustomed to. My favorite example doesn't involve the students but the rockin' DJ on the radio who pronounces "weekend" with a kind of gap between "week" and "end" which is something I've noticed my cousin-in-law and first-cousins-once-removed do.

See, I have family from the U.K.; my cousin married an English girl and has been living over there for twenty-something years. Nowadays when he speaks he sounds kind of like the actors in this movie, only that's because the English accent is creeping into him, not out of him. At most, he has that Richard Lester expat accent, where he still sounds Murican like 70-80 percent of the time. He wasn't full of shit like Madonna back when she was Mrs. Guy Ritchie, who after two seconds across the pond came out speaking The Queen's like a born-and-bred fish & chipper. Didn't Elijah Wood pull that shit for a little while too after filming a movie there? C'mon Frodo, you're better than that, bro.

Oh yeah, so, these assholes are back and they notice that the school is run down and closed down and nobody else is there except the caretaker (he's always been the caretaker) and one classroom full of food and drink and each of their lockers containing their old gear. One of these morons picks up a Pabst Blue Ribbon, downs it, and then his stomach explodes because only hipsters can stomach that swill, not former jocks like Guts Man over here. Something's up, and it might have to do with the masked creep wearing a letterman jacket and jester hat stalking the halls and c'mon, we know it's Marty getting revenge -- not that he actually has to do anything, because these idiots who are lucky to have made it this far in life without winning a Darwin Award set themselves up in death traps like washing up in bathtub filled with acid, or my favorite, getting it on on a bed that just happens to be there even though friends are dying all around them.

The movie doesn't take itself seriously -- Jesus, at least I hope it wasn't -- and while it's tempting to call this a "bad" movie, I feel this was exactly the movie the filmmakers wanted to make. At times it feels like a more restrained Troma production. The three (three!) writer/directors know what you want -- to see people die horribly -- and they give it to you while making no bones about not giving a shit about any of the characters. These are terrible people, all of them, and even though my sympathies were mostly with Marty because of all the shit that was done to him, he takes out the caretaker who to my knowledge wasn't involved in the pranks. That means Marty is really all about getting revenge for himself, rather than cleansing the Earth of mean-spirited fuckwads (which I would be down with) and he'd probably consider the caretaker collateral damage. Marty can go fuck himself too.

Aside from that, this is a fun and nasty ride worth a look-see; this was the theatrical version, meaning the gore was cut down but it still did the job of making us in the audience react audibly to it. I understand the DVD and streaming versions reinstate it, so I'll probably check that version out next Halloween season.

Immediately following Slaughter High, we saw a trailer reel where all the films had one thing in common -- they were all released in 1993: The CrushMan's Best Friend; Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday; Leprechaun; Return of the Living Dead 3. I then went to the restroom to do to the urinal what Rawhead Rex did to Declan and I thought I heard the trailer to Warlock: The Armageddon, but don't hold me to that.

The sixth and final film of the night turned out to be Ticks (aka Infested), directed by Tony Randel (Hellbound: Hellraiser II) and starring Seth Green who Michael J. Fox's it the fuck up in his role as a misunderstood kid named Tyler who is forced by his concerned dad to join some kind of group camp retreat for fellow troubled teens. Thankfully Tyler isn't an asshole, the way young protagonists are in these movies. Alfonso Ribeiro, on the other hand, plays a character named Panic ("...'cause I never do!") who has a higher asshole quotient because he's one of these guys who tries to show you how hard he is to others. While I had no problem buying Green as a put-upon kid with some issues, it took me a few minutes to buy Carlton from "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" as a muthafucka from the hood.

What I liked about their relationship is that it turns into a kind of grudging "You ain't that bad yourself, bro" kind of deal. It didn't turn into what I expected to be Panic constantly fucking with Tyler and pushing him towards some kind of moment where he'd have to Stand Up For Himself or something. That also goes for the relationship between them and the other problem children along for this ride into the woods -- a blonde bimbo, a brown himbo, an quiet Asian girl, Ami Dolenz -- they pretty much get along and they're led by some lady and Peter Scolari from "Bosom Buddies", a program he starred in with Tom Hanks, who by this time was winning accolades and Oscar buzz for his role in Philadelphia.

So off they go, into what I thought was the Northern California woods. I'll be honest, I got up a couple times to get some coffee refills so I missed some details here and there. Maybe it's supposed to be Southern California, and I think I got confused because there's a whole subplot about marijuana farmers and I associate that stuff with the Emerald Triangle up north. All I know is that Panic gets all upset and runs off to hitchhike back to Los Angeles after his canine companion dies after getting all swollen up and jello-jiggly because of being infected by giant steroid'd ticks. So I don't know how long of a ride he's got ahead of him.

Not that it would matter anyway. He won't get far, nor will anyone else in this film. Because of the titular ticks, you see. They're giant because fuckin' Clint Howard wasn't paying attention while trying to soup up his killer strain of Kush, he didn't notice the ticks were getting some of those good-ass 'roids until it was too late. A giant egg lands on his face and it looked familiar to me, that moment, and that's when I realized that this clip was part of the montage MTV put together for their tribute to Howard when he received his Lifetime Achievement Award at the MTV Movie Awards, joining fellow awesome recipients like Jackie Chan and Chewbacca. Howard was so genuinely touched by the honor that MTV discontinued it after, feeling there was no way to top that.

Anyway, he gets a fuckin' egg to the face and spends the rest of the movie infested internally by these bloodsuckas. The ticks get loose and oh woe is you if you're infested too. It's not so bad if they just bite you and inject some of that sweet sweet toxin in you, because then you start tripping LSD-style. But most likely you're gonna get pregnant behind the middle school from these things and then it will be very bad. It's all very gross and a mite disturbing but this is what movies like Ticks are all about, right? Grossing you out and shit? That's probably why sadists like Quinn/Blankenship scheduled this movie last, so close to breakfast.

This feels like a 90s version of a 1950s-60s creature feature, the way it starts off kinda slow and serious and the characters are even painted a slight shade of Human but then after the ticks show up, it all goes out the window and suddenly you have not just these things skittering about (which would occasionally bring about the occasional yelp and scream from a female audience member somewhere near the front), you then have these half-dimensional cardboard villains (marijuana farmers) and that's when it starts getting goofy and chaotic. The kind of movie they used to make -- like The Horror of Party Beach.

Clearly it's a low-budget film, but the practical effects are cool and there's even what looks to be front-projection and matte effects thrown in. If this were made today, it would be produced by The Asylum and it would be charmless and cynically thrown together with the amount of effort it would take to just upload footage into a fuckin' hard drive. These kids today, they miss out on shit like this. Everything has to be fuckin' Sharknado now.

As the end credits began to roll, Quinn showed up and told us not to leave yet because the night wasn't officially over yet. So we sat back down, most of us, anyway -- some still left and some like my friend would stand in the aisles -- and we waited until the very last frame of the Ticks print. A Bugs Bunny cartoon called "A Witch's Tangled Hare" followed, and after that, the same National Anthem film that always closes out the marathon.

As far as the 9th Annual All Night Horror Show is concerned, we made it. My buddy and I then walked down a few blocks to a restaurant called BLD; I'd heard about it while watching a rerun of "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" on the Cooking Channel. This one chef, Aida Mollenkamp, raved about the Ricotta Blueberry Pancakes there -- and I have to agree. They are pretty damn good, Cathie. If you make it to the next All Nighter, you should give them a try.

Oh I almost forgot! Right after the marathon, we were each given a gift in the lobby for making it through the night: a pair of sunglasses to help our walk into the morning light. The glasses were legit, and they most definitely fit. I wore them the rest of the day even though I have a pair of prescription sunglasses, but I was so tired I forgot about those until I was driving down the freeway and noticed things weren't as clear as I was used to seeing them. That was a fun drive. I don't know if my friend felt the same way.

OK, that's it. I have plenty of things to do. These votes aren't gonna tamper themselves and these e-mails aren't gonna be leaked on their own. Take care and be well, comrade.

Всего хорошего,


P.S. I suggest that you [REDACTED] [REDACTED] when they start to [REDACTED] everyone while the [REDACTED] [REDACTED] before the [REDACTED] in [REDACTED]. Just looking out for my friends!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Down to the twenties.

I don't give a good God Damn what Clint Eastwood said in that fuckin' interview because he's still kind of progressive for a 171-year-old man and plus he's Clint Fuckin' Eastwood, and better yet, his films tell me a different far more complicated story about him. And you know what else, I'm gonna tell you something, T: People his age grew up Hard during tough times and if you were one of those Hard Motherfuckers still alive in 2016 after all that, you can call anyone from a younger generation whatever the fuck you want, you've earned it.

And in some instances, you might even be a little right.

I mean, c'mon, fellow un-Hard young person -- you're gonna tell me that we aren't a little sensitive in the rear-end region? Because I think we are sometimes, at least. But enough of that shit, let's talk about some good shit, let's talk about Eastwood's latest film, Sully, starring Tom Hanks as Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger. Tom and Sully, hey, that's two well-liked people right there who are an honest thought away from saying something that doesn't quite tow the line and therefore instantly turns them into The Worst People Ever BOO These Ignorant Fucks And Burn Them In Effigy And Now Let's Hashtag Them Into The Next Life.

But for now, they've still managed to keep it together. Give 'em time, though; they both have Twitter accounts and you know how *that* fucking goes; they need to replace the verified checkmark that tells people I'm A Somebody and replace it with one of those round black bombs with a lit fuse on it because that's what you are, Celebrity, and one way or another your shit is gonna blow up and all of that fanatical love is gonna turn into a mushroom cloud of hate fueled by righteous indignation.

Sorry, we're talking about the movie, were we not? (The royal We, obvs.)

I'm gonna be honest with you, I knew about the "Miracle on the Hudson" when it happened back in '09 but I was so far up into my own ass that I didn't pay much attention to it other than to get the general gist of the incident: Pilot makes emergency water landing on Hudson River, all passengers and crew survived. Then I went back to doing whatever I was doing. Good for them, I thought, now let's get back to this new blog I recently started.

To more or less Whatever a rare bit of good news in this life was in retrospect a real sin worthy of a stint in the purgatory slam for a little bit of forever. 155 people could've died in a plane crash -- in New York, no less, its soul still flinching after the sight of two planes slamming into what was assumed to be two invincible pillars representing American Can-Do/Still-Do.

There's a shot in the film where some dude in an office meeting looks out the window to the sight of the Airbus A320 as it descends towards the Hudson, just missing the top of a bridge and you know he's not just thinking "Oh my God, that plane is going to crash" he's also thinking "Jesus Christ, it's happening again".

But it didn't happen. We were all given a break one way or another -- most importantly, the one-fucking-hundred and fifty-fuckin-five people on board US Airways Flight 1549 that afternoon. They were given the biggest break by getting more time on this miserable/wonderful ugly/beautiful planet.

Speaking of time, this movie doesn't mess around by wasting ours. Including credits, this flick runs about 95 minutes. I guess that's about right for a film about an incident that lasted 208 seconds. So don't give me that "How are they going to make a whole movie about that" bullshit like I heard the dude behind me say a couple weeks ago after the trailer for the movie, because my response will be a question of my own: How the FUCK do you make a goddamn fucking Transformers: Wahlburgers movie longer than The Bridge on the River Kwai? I don't have to see that piece of shit to tell you it has absolutely NO reason to run that fucking long and yet it does.

If Eastwood and screenwriter wanted to spend three hours on Sullenberger, on co-pilot Jeff Skiles, on flight attendants Sheila Dail, Doreen Walsh, and Donna Dent, on the poor air traffic controller, on the rescue workers, on Sully's wife, etc., they would have more right and reason to do so than whatever these coke-addicted filmmakers think they need with their Optimus Prime is Awesome bullshit.

"How are they going to make a whole movie about that?" Bitch, please.

I'll tell you how. You start on Sully already safely chilling out in his hotel room after the incident, then you follow him as he has to deal with all the media bullshit, going to interviews and wading through crowds of cameras and voice recorders and flashing lights, and then having to go deal with the National Transportation Safety Board giving him shit -- we all know that to save everybody's lives, you landed the plane on the water, but what this report presupposes is...maybe you didn't? -- and you know this poor guy is up against some scary opposition because the NTSB is portrayed by some hater who thinks he's hot shit because he's got Skyler from "Breaking Bad" on one side and Randall Flagg from The Stand tv-movie on the other. (To misquote Richard Pryor in Blue Collar: If I had that kind of heat backing me up, I'd be a motherfucker too!) Sully can't even have a decent phone conversation with his wife, and on top of that he's dealing with some of that ol' Post Traumatic Stress giving him nightmares and daymares. And in between all that, you give us a couple flashbacks to his past, and you give us flashbacks to the incident in question. That's how you make a movie about that -- a good one and a short one.

At 95 minutes there's no fat to this steak. Speaking of which, there's a part where Skiles (played by Aaron Eckhart) invites Sully for ribeyes at Del Frisco's in Charlotte, North Carolina which left me of course going "Man, I want a steak now" and even now as I'm typing this late at night I'm trying to figure out if there are any places open right now for steak or if I should just go to that 24-hour market and pick one and just grill one at home and OH MAN STEAK, BRO, FUCKIN' STEAK. But yeah, if this movie gets nominated for Best Picture -- which it probably will because it feels like the kind of movie that gets nominated -- it should win for no other reason than the length. It'll probably be like that episode of "Tiny Toon Adventures" where they had a student film festival and Plucky Duck's five-second movie won because it was the shortest.

I think it's a good movie and one of the better ones of 2016, but there's always gotta be some cons and mine would be the way the NTSB is represented; they're not the most multi-dimensional characters and the one played by Mike O'Malley (guy in the middle) comes off like a hater, like Fuck A Hero. I'm reminded of that line in "30 Rock" where Matt Damon's pilot character says something like how a great pilot would've not hit the birds in the first place, and O'Malley's character seems like someone who would genuinely believe that shit. Some of the dialogue feels a little on-the-nose, but I guess 95 minutes will only get you so much subtlety. And in one of Sully's 'mares, he sees a plane crash and it ends with this really cheesy shot of a jet engine flying towards the viewer like it was the Doof Warrior's guitar coming at you in 3D and I kinda wanted to laugh at that shit. Oh, and in the nitpicking department they also fuck up during one of Sully's jogging scenes, where he's going through Times Square and you see Halloween ads for Party City when this is supposed to be taking place in January -- or else Party City is all about getting the jump on the competition before October.

(By the way, I guess Party City is done with the Laughing Devil Baby at the end of its Halloween ads? It's been two years and I don't see it anymore. I miss it.)

Tom Hanks, I guess it's no surprise to say, is excellent in this film. I give this guy the Robert Forster Award for showing that you can give award-caliber performances without raising your voice once, which is why like Forster, Hanks will probably get an Oscar nod but won't win. (They'll give it to Shouty McCrySob for his performance in My Emotions!). His most emotional moment is pretty quiet too, his eyes tear up but he keeps it together because he remembers he can't beat his sobbing breakdown in Captain Phillips.

I assumed this quiet, soft-spoken dude Hanks plays is just this quiet and soft-spoken in real life (remember, I didn't bother watching interviews and shit back in '09), but then the real guy pops up during the end credits and he's so boisterous and happy to be there and I can see why: He's alive and he's in a fuckin' Clint Eastwood movie about his life! (Then he tells Hanks about the S.H.I.E.L.D. Initiative. OK, I made that joke before. So how about this one: After the credits, Sully is driving his muscle car down Baja and his inner monologue is going on about how he lives his life a quarter mile at a time. Happy?)

The movie shows us some of the passengers, who I'm assuming are fictionalized for the purposes of the film; there's a lady with her mother, a dude and his dad, a woman and her baby, and their scenes feel like a set-up for some disaster film -- the disaster film that is Life, muthafucka! -- and even though I know what's going to happen I still found myself worrying for them and hoping they'd come out of it OK. This is, like, the second Tom Hanks movie based on real shit of which I already knew the ending (Apollo 13 being the other) and yet I was still on edge and my nerves jingle-jangled while watching it. Watching the crew getting settled and the passengers getting on board, hearing the idling engines, all that stuff, it just filled me with dread. It also really gave me that anxious feeling I always get during that period between boarding the plane and when we're finally up in the air. I don't know if you get like that, but I do. Sometimes I have a pill from the doctor to take, sometimes I gotta man up and do without one. I have a flight in November, and this movie isn't helping.

You know how they now have these super haunted houses that require you fill out some form so that the people who run those fuckin' things can't be sued by you or your next of kin? They're supposed to be really intense and some are even borderline abusing you, and I even heard of one so scary that no one has made it all the way to the end, instead they give out the safe word and are taken out of there. Most of these have waiting lists and cost mucho dinero, which makes sense because I figure if you're a privileged type then you probably have that kind of scratch to waste and you most likely haven't ever had to deal with the real world with your coddled ass, because if you did, you wouldn't need some fucking assholes to psycho-torture you. You wouldn't be in need of genuine emotional trauma, you'd be going to the regular Boo! houses to escape by being scared in a fun way, like the rest of us real people who work jobs and pay rent, living in fear we suddenly won't be able to do either.

Anyway, what I'm getting at is that for those types who dig that shit, I've got an experience for you: How about you pay me and I'll put you on a plane for a coast-to-coast flight while playing sequences from this movie, Fearless, Final Destination, Alive, Executive Decision, Die Hard 2, Flight, and the entirety of United 93 on the monitors, all while the plane makes unexpected drops and turns and shit. And I'll include sweaty shifty-eyed brown people in every row doing prayers that are absolutely weird to your All-American ass. Then after you land -- if you land -- I'll greet you with a t-shirt that says "I made it!" or something and then I'll kick you in the balls or cunt.

So I'm getting anxious watching these people get on the plane, and even stuff like hearing the doorbell sounding tone that comes up before the captain begins speaking or watching the flight attendants do the safety thing with one doing the talking and one doing the demonstration is transporting me back to my previous flights and my breathing is getting shallow -- and that's when I recognize one of the flight attendants as Molly Hagan. I know who she is and will forever know who she is because in my grade school/junior high years, the Fox television show "Herman's Head" was my shiiiiiiiit and she was on it. If you were on Herman's Head, I know exactly who you are and every time I see you I'll be like "Hey, it's (insert actor here) from Herman's Head!" I know Yeardley Smith and Hank Azaria are famous for their voice work on "The Simpsons" but they'll be Louise and Jay first to me.

Hagan plays Doreen Welsh, and there's a part after the landing where it cuts to a shot of the floor as river water begins to rush in, and we see Doreen's leg on the left side of the screen with what appears to be a couple rivulets of brown liquid running down her ankle. For a second, I thought Holy Shit they're going for absolute realism here, considering the I'm About To Die fear she and everyone else in the plane must've felt. Then she yells "Evacuate!" and I'm thinking "You sure did, honey. I wouldn't announce it to the world" but then it turns out that brown fear was actually supposed to be blood from an injury but either the lighting or post-production coloring made it look that way, kinda like the way they turned the blood in the Rollerball remake into dark liquid in order to secure a PG-13 but ended up making Chris Klein look like either hair dye was running down his face or he got a call from Mr. Shadow from The Fifth Element.

I watched this in IMAX and if you can too, go for it because it's worth it. It's not some wow-filled spectacle, you're not watching Christopher Nolan flip-flopping aspect ratios on you or giant blue aliens coming at you in three dimensions or Amy Adams running around in jodhpurs, but man, it really enhances the experience and this 2D experience almost felt like 3D for me. It becomes much more You Are There with the opened up image and super loud ambient sound, and watching serious Real Life stuff going on actually felt more intense in IMAX than watching a couple of superheroes compare mothers in the same format. The plane landing sequence, which they show us like 2 or 3 times, would be harrowing enough as is on a regular television screen, but with all this pumped up picture and sound, wow. Even background things, like, in the cockpit while all this is going down you hear this computer voice saying things like "PULL UP! PULL UP!" or "TERRAIN! TERRAIN!" or "OBSTACLE! OBSTACLE!" and it's like watching someone try to land the jet on the aircraft carrier during the most terrifying game of Top Gun on the NES.

It turns out Eastwood and cinematographer Tom Stern composed the shots for IMAX, which presents the entire film in the taller 1.90:1 aspect ratio while the non-IMAX version is presented in the 2.35:1 Scope ratio; you get more image on the top and bottom with the IMAX one. If you can't see it in IMAX, don't feel too ripped off about getting less image, because most of his films (and all of them since 1999's True Crime) were shot in 2.35:1 and therefore I'd bet the Scope version probably feels more like an Eastwood joint than this IMAX one. I'll probably check this out again in the non-IMAX version to see if I'm right or just as full of shit as I am on a typical day.

Eastwood's films had been edited by Joel Cox for God knows how long, but for this one they brought in some new blood, some bloke named Blu Murray. Sounded like a bullshit name to me and I thought maybe it was some Roderick Jaynes or Mary Ann Bernard type shenanigans happening, but it turns out Blu is a real dude, he was Cox's assistant editor and I guess Cox said "OK kid, here's your shot". At least I hope that's what happened, either that or Cox was busy on something else. Because what I can't get out of my head is this scene I made up of Cox getting a late night phone call from Eastwood growling "I'm done carrying you around, Cox. Time for you to hit the streets. Say hi to Sondra for me." Click.

But even if Eastwood showed Cox the door, he kinda showed himself the door as well; Eastwood had been composing the music for his films for a while but this time he stepped aside and let jazz pianist Christian Jacob do his thing along with The Tierney Sutton Band. It's good understated jazzy stuff, mostly piano coming in and the occasional lovely vocal, but unlike Eastwood's usual melancholy compositions this one is more upbeat and hopeful but not in some obtrusive way that is wringing every last drop of emotion from the situation.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, I mean, go whichever way you want, it's kinda like that argument about using garlic in cooking, particularly Italian cuisine; those who feel that garlic brings out the flavor while others think little to none should be used in order to let the flavor of the rest of the food stand out. Personally, garlic or no garlic, it depends on which style you're more skilled with and whichever it is, that's the way I want you to make this dish and have I made it clear that I'm hungry? Now I'm thinking of a garlic infused ribeye steak GOD DAMN THAT SOUNDS GOOD With a nice cab or pinot to wash it down? HOLY SHIT

(Talkin' about music, dude. Stop with the steaks.)

My favorite part of the music score is during the rescue, where the ferry boats arrive and people are being pulled up. Like I said earlier, the music is perfect in a low-key "Well, how about that, I guess it's working out, huh?" way. That sequence might be my favorite of the entire film; watching how without hesitation you have these dudes working for sightseeing cruises and what-not pulling people up, taking off their jackets and hats to give to the soaked passengers to warm them up. You see rescue copters arrive and scuba dudes jumping in to get people who freaked out so much they jumped into the freezing water. Imagine that, the panic -- the sheer horrific panic! -- overwhelming you so much that you do some insane shit like jump into the icy river thinking you'll be able to swim to shore.

My goodness. So much potential there for everything to go badly in the most fucked-up way imaginable -- and it didn't. If this were an Eli Roth movie, the people in the river would get smooshed by a ferry or the chopper would go out of control and slice people up with the blades, and something would explode and then the survivors would look up and see a giant tidal wave approach them while in the background one of the rescue workers is raping a pregnant survivor. And the message would be Don't Help Anyone, You're Lame If You Do. But my message is Fuck Eli Roth with his fucking hard-ons for misery, these same erections which I'm assuming he then uses to fuck his hot Chilean wife. I met him once and he was super nice but then again many serial killers were nice to their neighbors.

But yeah, the rescue scene. I'm watching how selfless everybody is, both the rescuers and the survivors to each other and I know it's a movie but it's also based on real shit. And there's no arguing going on here about Making America Great Again, guns or no guns, liberal vs conservative vs men vs women vs transgender vs gay vs lesbian vs black vs white vs this country vs that country vs God vs No God -- there is none of that shit, there is only the human race and how it takes a fucked up situation for us to live up to our positive potential towards each other. And I'm like FUCK why can't we fucking do this all the fucking time, why does it have to be some kind of disaster as the catalyst? We have the keys to the kingdom and we're arguing about the keychain.

Look, I know I'm Debbie Downer about us but I wasn't always like this, you have to believe me, and little by little I feel more and more that we're doomed. But I don't get off on it. I'm not fucking happy about it. There's a little dot of light in my heart called Hope, but that's about it, really.

I'm like Mulder, man -- I Want to Believe.

Only instead of a UFO it's the human race on my fuckin' poster.

So I'm thinking all of that while I'm watching all of this rescuing to the nice music and I begin tearing up. (This is happening a lot more as I get older and read the writing on the wall.) I then feel someone looking at me. I look over to my right at the woman sitting next to me. She's looking at me. She saw the tears roll down my face. So I straighten up, wipe the tears away and tell her that I was crying for all the poor geese murdered by that evil flying machine because Man was not meant for the skies.

Because fuck Man -- the real beauty is in Canada Geese, you hear me?!




Thursday, September 15, 2016

One, definitely. Two, maybe.

I don't think I've mentioned the Vista Theatre in this here blog, probably because I haven't gone to it nearly enough times. It's in Los Feliz, technically closer to me than the other cool theaters in Los Angeles, and yet here I am counting on one hand the amount of times I've gone there.

But now I can use two hands because I went there back-to-back over the weekend and I think I'll go over there more now. What happened, dear reader, was that I was scared away by the parking situation; you're looking for parking on side streets in a residential neighborhood and Parking Enforcement is ever-roving so you can't even pull some slick shit or you'll get a piece of paper on your windshield wiper and there you'll be, approaching your car with dread while a part of you still hopes that what you've got there under the wiper is a flyer or menu -- anything!

Did I ever tell you one of my greatest accomplishments in fucking up was going to Beverly Hills to throw myself at the mercy of the court over a ticket only to come out and realize my street sign reading comprehension was not strong that day and now I had a parking ticket to contend with? People walking past me had no idea why the chubby Mexican-American was applauding himself in the middle of the sidewalk, but he sure did.

So yes, parking fright. But now I know what to do -- show up for the latest showing possible. Which come to think of it makes total fucking sense considering the only time I feel comfortable driving in that city -- or any city! or any town! anywhere! -- is late at night. Driving in Los Angeles during the day is a genuine waking nightmare for me while driving in L.A. late night style is one of my favorite things to do.

And thanks to these fuckin' Nerds, I was able to arrive at the Vista around 11pm and find parking and get in line for a 25th Anniversary screening of The Rocketeer, the latest monthly midnight show by Nerds Like Us. Yeah, this is the one about the guy Cliff Secord who finds the jet pack (created by Howard Hughes -- and I'm still upset that The Aviator skips over this whole chapter of his life) that enables him to take to the sky without burning his ass, dealing with mobsters and Nazis and a sorta/kinda Errol Flynn. Yup, 2016 is the 25th Anniversary of its release, and it's also the 25th Anniversary of Me Wondering When Is The Sequel Gonna Come Out.

Yeah, The Rocketeer was my shit then and it's my shit now but it ain't no shit movie and if you think that then you, my non-friend are shit. OK, that was too much. I don't get that upset about someone not sharing my love for a film, I just feel sorry for them. Because while they complain about there not being Rocketeer action, they're inadvertently forest/tree-ing themselves out of so much more to enjoy.

They're unable to take in, say, the 1938 Los Angeles settings and enjoy this sorta-idealized universe with the classic cars and where people listened to the radio instead of watching television and you dressed to the nines to take your lady over to the South Seas Club where Jan from The Office sang sadly from out of a giant clam shell and everything was Art Deco as fuck (the Art Deco movie poster for this film is among my favorite things evaaaaarrrr) and it's a world that one gentleman may kinda secretly want to transport yourself to, were it not for the fact that as an oily Latin he would have to change his name to Eric Franklin Carson and try to Anglo that shit up and hope they give a shit about the suspiciously brown-skinned gentleman so long as he can keep playing that bass while giving us that swing! Wait! Where was I? Oh yes, these poor unfortunates who cannot enjoy The Rocketeer for what it is, and instead only concentrate on what it isn't.

What it is is a throwback to serials of the 1930s and 40s without ever having to duplicate them -- in other words, this isn't some Grindhouse type deal (not that there's anything wrong with that), this is more of a Raiders of the Lost Ark or Star Wars game being played here, where the filmmakers were clearly inspired by entertainment from the good ol' days, took that retro sensibility and made something modern out of it -- albeit a modern film that takes place in the past. Huh? Wha? I don't...OK.

I'm trying to be the one posting about The Rocketeer that doesn't use the term "gee-whiz" and would you look at that? I failed. But I'll throw in this instead and pretend the previous sentence doesn't exist: Sincerity. Fuckin' film is sincere as fuck. No snark and only small traces of irony in this smooth rolled cigarette of a film,  you can take a puff and not worry about any of those additives and instead enjoy the pure richness of the smoke.

I was originally going to use a marijuana simile up there but I want to keep in spirit of the time period, and back then there were many more who believed the cheeba would turn you into a piano-playing werewolf or at the very least, made you associate with Negroes. Speaking of which, I hate when this happens but I do sometimes wonder about Secord and his hot girlfriend Jenny Blake and Peevy his mechanic/best bud and his buddies at the awesome Bulldog Cafe (it's awesome!) and I wonder how many of them were not fans of my Black brothers and sisters. I mean, I don't think there's a single African-American in this film, or I wasn't looking hard enough.

Remember, this was back when America was great and you didn't need the Internet to hide behind, you were allowed to be open about hating on anything non-White or Christian or whatever with your fellow Joes, Jims, Janes, and Jennys (oh no, not you too, Jenny!) Whoever runs the Bulldog Cafe at least seems to be OK enough with mi gente because that place proudly proclaims tamales as one of its specialties (and besides, someone has to wash the dishes, am I right?) but I won't eat Tamale One in that motherfucker unless my colored friend over here can join in.

So I'm cool with this sequel I've heard talked about, where the new Rocketeer would be a Black woman. It would at the very least, piss off all the assholes out there -- but I like to imagine that my fellow Rocketeer fans carry ourselves a far more civilized about that kind of thing, rather than your average foam-mouthed rabid Ghostbusters fanatic who just couldn't stand vaginas rubbing against the crotches of those jumpsuits.

The special effects are not embarrassingly dated, more like impressively dated; the flying effects are nice and I'm particularly a fan of some of the model work here, like everything involving that Nazi zeppelin -- no, not for what it stands for, I'm just saying watching it blimp around over the L.A. skyline still looks impressive, and watching that Nazi aircraft go up in flames is pretty awesome too. Speaking of flaming Nazi blimps, I'm still trying to figure that one shot where Cliff and Jenny are standing on top of it and in the background the blimp is beginning to explode section by section, causing the giant walls of flame to get closer and closer to our hero and heroine; it doesn't look like two different shots blended together, it looks like they set up those blasts for real and even if they told me that those charges were only set up so far, I'd still be nervous about standing anywhere in the vicinity.

(Of course, the greatest special effect in the film is Jennifer Connelly as Jenny Blake, who has one of my favorite filmic introductions ever with that wolf-whistle-worthy shot of a stocking being pulled up one of her lovely gams before finally ending on a close-up of her face. And I can wolf-whistle here because this is 1938, back when women knew their place and weren't all about wanting to be treated equal -- HA! Equal? As in the same as Men! HA HA! The kitchen is *that* way, honey!)

Before the screening they had a costume contest; the winners were a couple dressed like Cliff and Jenny, and a dude dressed like Dick Tracy -- and that's a double feature for your ass right there! I sat a few seats down from a lady who had a Rocketeer helmet and she was cool with me taking a photo of her, as were Cliff and Jenny.

They either showed us a DCP or Blu-ray at this screening (I'm betting on the latter), and while I've would've loved to see a 35mm print of this again, I was just happy to see it on a big screen in a packed house of fellow Rocketeer fans. There was even more cheering and laughter here than when I saw it back in June '91; I hoped/expected the crowd to cheer when mobster Eddie Valentine says that "I may not make an honest dime..." line and sure enough they did -- as did I -- and it felt so good. It's such an awesome moment in a film full of them, this film with such an innocence and hope to it that watching it now in these dark and hopeless times it gave me a little jolt of Hey, Maybe We'll Be OK and I know that's bullshit but I love those little moments in life. 

That line, which I won't totally give out in case you haven't seen it, is a patriotic line and it's a fictional character in a movie about flying jet packs and giant Aryan assassins and yet I find more sincerity in it that all all the campaign rallies and speeches from the past year. I wonder how many people cheered so loudly in that theater when he says it for more than one reason; not just because we see a character make a turn not expected, but because it's said with a kind of unabashed justified pride and it doesn't come off like FUCK OFF YA'LL THIS IS MURICA but more like, shit, man, we ain't fuckin' Nazis, bro -- they're the bad guys! Shit, I don't even believe in Good Guys or Bad Guys anymore except in movies. It's all a matter of perspective and what side of the ocean you happen to have been born in, I'm afraid. What's that line in Zero Effect? "There are no good guys or bad guys. It's all just a bunch of guys"? I used to think that was a stupid line. 

I noticed a small poster at the box office for a midnight screening of the 1983 Scarface and I thought Hmm...and so I went back to the Vista the following night to catch Scarface on the big screen -- no, not the original Howard Hawks joint, this is the one with Al Pacino as a Cuban refugee who comes to Miami, U.S.A. and rises up to the top of the cocaine mountain and proceeds to snort All The Cocaine.

This screening was being held by the 35mm Secret Movie Club, and I'm sorry that I just blew the secret but there you go. It's pretty cool; monthly midnight screenings of a classic film on 35mm. The ticket prices are higher than your average cineplex stub -- $20 general, with student discounts and you can also get a discounted price if you use the Venmo site -- but that all goes to help cover the cost of renting the print. This screening of Scarface left many an empty seat in comparison to their other screenings (which based on these videos, had far better attendance), so charging extra probably helped make that nut.

So you RSVP the Club via e-mail, and I figured it was similar to a midnight screening of The Room -- just so the people behind the screening know how many to expect. But you're actually put on a list, and since I didn't put my name on the list but rather the name of the blog, that's who I had to ask for upon seeing said list. The gentleman in the blue suit outside the theater manning the table and hosting the screening (I'm sure he's the dude in charge of this) asked for my name and I had to point it out on the paper, this "Exiled from Contentment" bullshit, and he said it was "an intense name".

When he said that, he was being friendly but I detected maybe a bit of worry in the voice? I wanted to assure him with an energetic upbeat response like: "Oh, it's not meant to be intense, it's the name of my blog. I came up with the name and the blog during a down period in my life, and even then, I was kinda poking fun at my situation. But out of context, yeah, I'm sure it does sound intense and yes I'm by myself on a Saturday night and yes I've been told I have an angry face which probably adds to it and being alone + angry face + intense e-mail name = Brooding Loner, but I'm actually OK, and I'm more of a solitary guy anyway and I'm happy to be here and I'm sure it's going to be a good time tonight thanks for having this!"

But what I heard myself saying in response was: "Uh-huh."

He asked me for my actual name and I gave it to him and he was very nice, as I'm sure you would be when faced with a Brooding Loner because most B.L.s own guns and you know how *those* assholes do. So I found myself overcompensating with smiles and cheer to convince him I wasn't one of them -- was I trying to convince myself DUN DUN DUN

So before the film, the gentleman in the blue suit comes out, welcomes us, tells us about some upcoming films, asks us to vote on which potential films should be the next ones screened, and then he tells us about knowing someone who worked on Scarface as an assistant editor. According to this guy, Brian De Palma shot everything with 5 cameras and ended up exposing over a million feet of film, and this guy knows because he had to sync all 1 million feet of film for the editors. The way this guy told it to him, he still sounded exhausted from the experience.

That's very interesting to me because in interviews De Palma always seemed like he was big on Hitchcock's approach to filmmaking, which is to say, have every shot in the film planned out and composed to get a certain effect. And I remember in Julie Salomon's book "The Devil's Candy", it was brought up that because De Palma shot that way, there was very little one could do with that footage other than change the pacing.

My best guess is that De Palma does shoot that way but he also doesn't find anything wrong with covering his ass, and I'm sure even if he is pretty sure he only wants a scene shot a certain way, who's to say he doesn't shoot it in various different paces or tempos -- and who's to say he doesn't shoot a bunch of takes either?

So the film begins, and I can tell by the soundtrack (and the Focus Features logo) that this is the 2003 re-release version, which is the same movie only the sound has been remixed and some of the sound effects have been replaced or edited differently. Personally, I prefer this mix; I'm usually a purist (see my Facebook complaint about the new sound mix on the Sorcerer Blu-ray) but I always felt the only thing not over-the-top about this over-the-top movie was the sound. I remember watching this for the first time on VHS; we had just purchased a surround sound system and I was getting spoiled on watching movies with thundering bass and crisp dialogue and sounds coming from behind. And here comes Scarface with Giorgio Moroder's awesome synth music setting me up for something awesome, and it was -- until that tension-filled sequence early on in the Sun Ray Motel, as Manny sneaks up to the door with that MAC-10 submachine gun while a few feet away in the bathroom Hector the Chainsaw Wielding Colombian is about to give Tony Montana the Angel Hernandez treatment and I'm on the edge of my seat ready for some fucking retaliatory ownage about to happen.

"AHORA TU!" shouts Hector the Chainsaw-Wielding Colombian.

And then we see the glass-shuttered door to the motel room split in half by Manny's MAC-10, only, uh, only I'm not hearing any serious rat-a-tat coming from that weapon. I'm hearing something akin to a sheet of paper being torn right beside my ear while someone drop dishes on the floor a few feet away. This is gunfire? I asked myself as this happened -- and I would ask myself again anytime someone fired a weapon during this film. OK, sure, I acknowledged. It was always kind of a secret bummer for me, even though I was a fan of the movie. Even my first time watching it on the big screen (December '02 at the Egyptian Theater with a Steven Bauer Q&A) in a 35mm print featuring an impressive four-track stereo mix, it would bring the enjoyment down a tad when they busted out that sub-1960s sound effect library for the gunshots.

But they fixed it with the new (well new in '03) mix, so now when Manny gives that door a 9mm knock-knock, it sounds like it should: Fucking Awesome. The first time I heard it, I was like "Wha...?" and I wasn't sure until a couple seconds later when Manny then ventilates Grace Zabriskie's Cracked-Out Colombian Cousin aka "Marta" and I was like Hell Yeah That's What I'm Talking About!

I'll be honest, they did fix some things I would've preferred unfixed -- like that weird moment during the final shootout when they cut to a close-up of a long-haired assassin who has just been shot up by Tony and he's clearly dead as he slides down the barrier, glassy-eyed and slack-jawed and yet he gives out this loud "AUUUUUUGGGHHHH!!!" That's gone in the new mix, but hey, it's a fair trade for some awesome gunfire and an opened-up more detailed-sounding music score. That's the peace I've had to make after I tried and failed to make Fetch happen by having Dead Guy Goes AUUUUUUGGGHHHH become the new Han Shot First.

(They also took out the funny "AYYYY!" yelp Tony makes after he's hit in the shoulder by a bullet during the same shootout, replacing it with a more theatrical "AAAAH-AHHH")

You want to hear something fucked up? Well, you can't -- because this is a blog with written words, not a podcast with me saying shit. Anyway, I've never seen the original 1932 Scarface starring Paul Muni. I will fix that someday. No, really, I will. I have, like, 50 movies on my DVR, 200 DVDs, and 800 DVD-Rs, and dozens of movie files on various flash and hard drives -- but I'm sure I'll get to that movie soon.

But I've seen this on VHS twice; the first time in '95. It was one of the first films I bought on laserdisc and suddenly friends were coming out of the woodwork asking me to dub it on tape for them. I've seen it on the big screen about, let's see -- Egyptian, New Beverly, Magic Johnson, Arclight, Brea Plaza, Vista -- six times, at least six times if I'm missing any other screenings. It's good times, dude -- an over-the-top glorious three-hour spectacle of foulmouthed excess full of "chicas, champagne, flash", early 80s pre-Miami Vice style (the role of Miami played by Los Angeles), endlessly quotable dialogue by a recently sober Oliver Stone who still had plenty of residual coked-up vibes to spare, Brian De Palma's pitch-perfect operatic direction, and lots and lots of beautiful fine white COOOO-FUCKIN-CAINE! and it never got boring for me. I'm beyond/beneath being able to tell you if a movie is good or bad -- I can't tell you if Al Pacino's performance is genuinely good or not, for example -- just that I got entertainment value out of it, and holy shit am I always entertained by this film. The history of my Scarface viewing, by E.F.C., lady and gentleman!

Something that never fails to amuse me is whenever Tony goes to visit his mother. She's played by Puerto Rican actress Miriam Colon and she's definitely better at the accent than Pacino; everything she says is tinged with Cubano but her words are as clear as Crystal Geyser. On the other side of the accent spectrum, Tony Montana's all EY FAH KJOO MANG JOO FAHK WEETH MEE JOOR FAHKEENG WEE D BESS and I'm thinking maybe that garblespeak is a result of his mixed-up upbringing with his American dad taking him to Bogart movies? Or maybe it's because Colon's character Mama Montana has been alive longer so then she had more time to improve her English over the years? But that's assuming that when they're speaking English to each other, De Palma's not pulling a Red October for the audience so in reality they're speaking in their native tongues -- which would then mean that when she says "Five years. Cinco anos." she's really saying "Cinco anos. Five years." and now I'm even more tired now than when I started this shit.

Mama Montana tells Tony that it's Cubans like him who make their people look bad, those who work hard and obey the laws and speak English without sounding like half-a-stroke-victim. There's also another part in the film where a Cuban-American fed angrily tells Tony something like "You make a real Cuban throw up" and I guess stuff like that is the filmmakers trying to cover their asses so people don't walk away thinking this is a representation of your average Cuban in the United States. But my favorite example of Ass-Covering is the disclaimer that they wait until after nearly all the end credits have rolled up and you know the name of every one of those awesome songs they blasted at the Babylon Club and even then it's like ten seconds. It's cool because that means the many ushers around the world came away from that movie knowing #NotAllCubanAmericans when it comes to cocaine and chainsaws.

And that's because it was Colombians that were rocking the 'saws.

Friday, September 2, 2016

I have no idea what you mean by "Facebook ramblings", sir. You are mistaken.

It's been a miserable fucking summer during a miserable fucking year if you're into hope and faith in your fellow human being, but enough of that, no one wants to hear that. Hi lady and gentleman. I hope you are doing well. Here are my ramblings on some of the non-Nice Guys movies I watched this summer. Because I watched The Nice Guys four times this summer, meaning this summer was the summer of The Nice Guys. The Mad Max: Fury Road Holy Shit You Saw It How Many Times?! award goes to...The Nice Guys.

Hey wait a minute! You know what kind of took me by surprise (the way I just took you by surprise by not talking about movies like I just said I would)? The school year beginning earlier than I expected. I mean, I've been out of school for the longest and so I wasn't aware of how much changed between back then and right now. In my day, the school year ended in early June and began again after Labor Day. College was similar, with summer break beginning mid-June and ending mid-September. (By the way, I'm speaking of school in the United States of Soon To Be Great Again Murica, I don't know nor give a shit how other countries do it because that's how Murican I is.)

Now kids are going to school in mid-to-late August, which kinda bummed me out until I thought of how these kids don't even know about how shit used to be, this is normal for them. This is their paradigm. You deal with the bullshit until mid-May, I guess, and then it's summertime and the livin's easy until mid-August. It appears Hollywood has made this easier for them by releasing summer movies earlier than ever, because I remember in my day summer movies didn't come out until Memorial Day at the earliest.

But then you have something like Captain America: Civil War out in early May and here we go. I enjoyed CA:CW (as we in the know call it, I'm sure), and at this point Marvel has their assembly line working tip-top top-of-the-line A-number-one and you get what you want from these films. What really stood out for me was how this movie felt like a big Fuck You to the DC Cinematic Snyderverse -- with a middle finger stretched out to Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

I'm sure it's all a coincidence, given how both films came out a few months of each other, but who knows, bros? Who's to say that Marvel's spies weren't scanning script pages of that film during production and they made sure to do the opposite of whatever the fuck DC was doing. (Don't Do What Donny "DC" Don't Does.) It's like they read this script about a superhero who wasn't sure whether or not he should intervene in big time situations that could benefit from his help, whether or not he should step in and save lives -- and they answered back with a movie filled with characters that would give you a look, smack the shit out of you, followed by another look for even entertaining those kinds of thoughts.

Fuckin' Supes is all mopey on a mountain with Kevin Costner's ghost crying about "Oh woe is Me with these superpowers", while Tony Stark and Captain Muthafuckin' America are way past that shit -- they're like "We have the powers and the tools and we know what we gotta do" -- and instead they're about to throw down with each other about whether the Avengers should be allowed to get involved in Worldly Bad Shit free agent-style or should they have some fuckin' middlemen giving them the go-ahead. (And they give good arguments for both arguments; ultimately I'm on Captain America's side but the movie gave me totally understandable reasons as to why Tony Stark would feel the opposite way.)

I'll be honest, I still am not totally convinced about Cap's love affair with Bucky the Winter Soldier being so strong that he's willing to overlook all the previous murders that motherfucker's committed. I mean, even Winter himself says something to the effect of "Yeah, I know I was being mind-controlled, but I still killed all those people" but hey, that's me and my belief in paying what you owe and making things square with the house again -- in movies, anyway.

It's good stuff, fun stuff, this Civil War stuff. My only problem is that the first half's action scenes are shot in that bullshit high shutter stutter style which does not lend itself well to the quicky-quick-quick editing, nor does some of the bullshit "let's film this awesome shit in close-ups rather than pull back and let us see what's going on" camerawork. The filmmakers finally snap out of it by the midway point, thankfully before we have the centerpiece rumble between Team Cap and Team Stark. It's also by that point where it really gets fun, because that's when they bring back Ant-Man and introduce the latest model of Spider-Man, adding a welcome helping of Funny and Gee Whiz to the going-ons.

I like how some people were giving shit about Marisa Tomei as Aunt May being too hot and too young for the part -- in this universe protected by hotness such as Black Widow and Peggy Carter -- even though in reality she's actually closer age-wise to your usual aunt and might even still be on the older spectrum of Parent's Siblings but that's OK with me because age ain't nothing but a number AM I RIGHT, FELLAS? -- unless the number is under 18, then you're dealing with a new number, like Prisoner Number 9428441 or something. Say hi to Woody and Roman for me, cuz.

My current abode had to have its air conditioning fixed in June, and it was still being fixed when I came home one Friday afternoon after work so I left and used the time to go check out whatever was playing at the local cineplex. Whatever turned out to be Central Intelligence, starring walking Alpha Dwayne Johnson and current It Funny Black Guy Kevin Hart.

It started off pretty strong with a flashback to the 90s introducing us to our main characters in high school where Hart was the super-popular jock and Johnson was an overweight nerd and the principal was played by the principal from Election. But what started as promisingly funny/dark in an almost lighter Heathers sort-of-way then downgrades to harmless and forgettable, which kinda stung a bit because this really could've been so much more -- especially once the premise gets established (Hart is bummed out about being 20 years past the best years of his life, while Johnson is now a badass-yet-still-socially-awkward CIA agent who needs his help). It felt like the kind of movie that probably had a stronger and sharper and darker script when it was greenlit but then got studio'd down many hack rewrites later into a nice easy-to-swallow bland foodstuff for the masses, like Soylent Green except instead of people this shit was made out of dead high concepts.

It has its moments, though; Johnson's character has a thing for the film Sixteen Candles, and there are occasional references to it that gave me some chuckles. There are also a couple of uncredited cameos I wasn't expecting, and those appearances were among the few and far between moments when the movie felt like it was amping up to get better. In retrospect, I'm getting kinda pissed off because Hart and Johnson were so obviously up to the fuckin' task but the movie let them down -- fuck it, it let ME down. I told a friend around the time that I saw this that I thought it was entertaining in an "I need to kill two hours in an air-conditioned theater" sort-of-way, but now I'm thinking fuck this movie.

I also watched Matthew McConaissance in Free State of Jones, which was a lot bleaker and non-summer-ish than I expected -- I guess this was that "counter-programming" I hear so much about in the movie biz lexicon. The movie takes place during the Civil War, but we ain't talking some Iron Man and Captain America bullshit, this is the real one, the one that I was taught about in school and was told ended with the Union winning over the Confederacy. And it was back then, in my young book-learnin' years that I had this strong, so very strong belief that because it was so long ago, clearly everyone moved on for the greater good. We moved forward. We became better people. Smarter people. More compassionate. Willing to learn from our mistakes. We improved. We grew stronger. We became united. We evolved.

My man McC plays a dude named Newton who was a medic for Johnny Reb, but after losing a brother or cousin or whoever that guy was, and seeing how the Confederacy is fucking over his fellow peeps with taxes and what not, he lickety splits and eventually finds himself hiding out in the swamps with some runaway slaves. The main slave is this dude with a fuckin' Goodbye Uncle Tom-style cage on his head, that's how I know he must be the main slave. I could only imagine how much more horrifying it could be for that guy if someone decided to put a covering over that cage and then dump some bees inside that thing to turn this poor brotha from Luke Cage to Nic Cage.

Newton and his new slave friends hook up with other Rebs who don't want to fight anymore and end up going Wolverines! on any Confederate troops who try to break up their little slice of Freedomtown they call Jones County. Every once in a while, the movie flashes forward to the 1950s where some White dude is on trial for wanting to marry his White girlfriend, because it turns out he might actually have enough African-American blood in his ancestry to qualify him as Black enough for prison, because once upon a time we were assholes like that about race and it's a good thing we don't have any of that racist residue left on our souls.

It's a good film, but like I said it's as bleak and ugly as life itself -- which makes sense considering this is some real life shit we're watching here. It's the kind of movie where nice Black people get hung from trees and the next morning Matthew McConaughey finds the body and weeps below the dangling legs and the White people responsible probably grow old and die loved by many and I'm filled with rage and sadness walking out of the theater at all the injustice while the people most in need of seeing a movie like this won't ever bother.

Matty M is great in the film, as is everyone else, but this deliberately paced drama with the occasional moment of gunfire probably had a better shot coming out around Oscar season, rather in the summer where it would probably bewilder audiences who were expecting something more like The Patriot (the Roland Emmerich one, not that Seagal bullshit) because honestly, that's what the trailer makes it look like. This movie isn't even loud, it's so quiet you can hunt rabbit while watching it and not fuck up your game. So guess who felt like quite the douchebagga in the audience with his popcorn and nachos? What can I say? Tasty snacks help the racism go down easier.

Speaking of war and racial strife, I also caught the Rifftrax/MST3K reunion that was being broadcast live in theaters. The Rifftrax trio of Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett were joined by their former MST homies Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff, Mary Jo Pehl, and Bridget Jones-Nelson. They also brought in the host of the new incarnation of MST3K, Jonah Ray.

They riffed various shorts in pairings; Hodgson & Ray, Beaulieu & Conniff, Pehl & Jones-Nelson, and the Rifftrax trio. Their riff quality ranged from Cute to Very Funny, with Beaulieu/Conniff being my faves. Then at the end, they all joined together to riff two more shorts: an old Superman one starring that one guy who shot himself, and one about the many uses of grass (the kind from your lawn, not the kind that makes you forget you're living in a real life cartoon populated by one-dimensional characters).

Now I'm a fan of Rifftrax but I do admit it's not as funny as MST3K and this reunion was an unintentional example with contrasts and comparison to help you make this conclusion. From what I understand, Rifftrax's riff tracks are written by Nelson, Corbett, and Murphy and a few more writers who are new blood/younger generation types that weren't involved with MST3K. Which is all fine and dandy but you can tell it's not quite the same. There is this mistaken belief that because Mike Nelson was the credited head writer of Mystery Science Theater 3000 that meant that he wrote the bulk of the jokes and that is as wrong as the thoughts that go through my head when I look at my female boss because I'm telling you, I'm getting vibes from her, I think she fuckin' wants it, bro, I knew she wanted this dick the second she caught a whiff of my AXE Body Spray. Oh, so yeah, Mike Nelson as head writer would compile the best riffs for the movie, that is my understanding.

I don't know who does the head writing for Rifftrax now, but the fact that so many of the MST writers are no longer involved, you don't get the same kinds of jokes being thrown a movies way. I also notice that your average Rifftrax riff can get a little long-winded. But it's still good, I'm just saying, you know, it's a solid B compared to the A game MST3K was usually pulling off. This reunion was some A game stuff, though, and it was clearly because you had the old gang adding in their style of riffs to the movie-mocking bouillabaisse. Rifftrax needs Beaulieu and Conniff to join in, at least as writers if not fellow riffers. They already have Pehl and Jones-Nelson riffing shorts for Rifftrax, but they do it on their own, not with the trio; I'm assuming this is a scheduling thing, otherwise I think having Pehl & Jones-Nelson join the guys would make it even better AND let's get Beaulieu & Conniff while we're at it! OK, that's it, I either made sense or I didn't, I'm moving on.

The Biggest Disappointment of the Summer award (aka The Spawn) definitely goes to fuckin' Independence Day: Resurgence, which rarely felt as fun and goofy as the O.G. ID4. Really, the only time I got that old lame magic back was when Judd Hirsch's character showed up and even then, the Komedy didn't go Full Borscht Belt until Hirsch and Goldblum's characters were reunited. By then it was too little too late as I had to deal with a far more glum and listless film (yet barely clocking at two hours!) focusing mostly on a bunch of young generic good-looking twenty-somethings and all I could think about was the litany of Young Adult Dystopia Movies they probably worked on and would go back to after this movie, and how I wouldn't recognize any of them if I even bothered watching any of those fucking movies.

And yeah yeah, I know what you're gonna say: "This was intended to be the second film in a planned trilogy and what's wrong with the second film in a trilogy being the darker one, I mean, fuckin' Empire Strikes Back, motherfucker?!" Well, first off, have you seen the box office tally for this? I wouldn't hold my breath for Independence Day: Re-Resurgence anytime fuckin' soon. (But then again, they made a sequel to the remake of The Mechanic, so who knows?) And second, The Empire Strikes Back was dark in a good way, the way a good movie can be dark. This was dark in the way that a really shitty Syfy movie with no sense of humor tries to be dark.

I really wanted to have a good time with this flick. I went all out on snacks. I was gonna get all sugar'd up, all carb'd up. OK fine, what else is new? Only this time I was doing more of that shit.

You know what? I'm gonna give this movie a break. I'm thinking about it, and I still don't like it, but it's probably not that dark or terrible. I think it was seeing Robert Loggia's weird silent barely standing-up cameo in the film that fucked up my mood, because I knew that in order to pull that off meant they either CGI'd Robert Loggia into the film or they got the real Robert Loggia who was at death's door rockin' full-on Alzheimer's and probably thought the cameras were giant cannons and he was surrounded by the Japanese demanding he surrender to Tojo or something. Either choice equals A Case of the Sads for me.

The screenplay is credited to five writers which I feel is three writers too many because when it comes to Independence Day, the only names that fucking matter to me are Roland Emmerich and most important of all, my man, muthafuckin' Master of the Dad Joke Mr. Dean Devlin. And maybe that's what happened, that with the three other writers this movie wasn't getting full-on Devlin'd. Whatever. In conclusion, I sincerely no-bullshit believe that their version of Godzilla was a better sequel to Independence Day than this sequel to Independence Day.

So then came July, and I got to celebrate my birthday by catching a midnight showing of Inglorious Basterds at the New Beverly Cinema. The last time I got to see a midnight show on my birthday was in 2011 with a screening of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Good times then, good times now. Basterds holds up, man, it's really really good; I actually came out of it thinking I cut Tarantino too much slack on The Hateful Eight as a result.

Christoph Waltz was such a terrific villain in Basterds, and he's no baddie slouch in The Legend of Tarzan either. His character looks like he might be one of those weak types who needs bigger stronger men to do his fighting for him, but looks are deceiving because he handles himself pretty well. Watching him in any movie is good times, and this movie? The Tarzan movie? It's good times too, man, a good old fashioned example of summer movie entertainment. Fun, respectful of its audience, well-made with cinematography that let you take in the sights and editing that let you register the sights you just took. I felt like I was watching a good summer movie from the mid-90s or something. It would make a good double bill with The Phantom, and if you didn't like that movie then you better duck before I slam the evil out of your ass.

Wow, that was quite the Tobias Funke sentence I wrote up there, wasn't it?

I don't know who this Skarsgard is, all I know is that my coworker has the hots for him which is why she saw the movie, and that he was good in this movie as Tarzan. He didn't annoy me by being douchey, and neither did the film, for that matter. This movie wasn't some overly long two-and-half-hour commercial that openly hated its audience and shat out pure contempt and smugness with a look that said "See you in two years when we throw more of this slop at you!" It was no Transformers, this flick. But this movie? The Tarzan movie? I would totally line up to see if they made another one.

You know who else I liked in the film, aside from everyone else? Margot Robbie. Like Skarsgard, I wasn't left thinking "I'm supposed to like this jerk?", no way Jose, I was totally with her and not only that, her Jane can handle her own -- for the most part, because this is still a Tarzan movie. I mean, yeah, she gets jacked by that bad Christoph Waltz, but she certainly doesn't make it easy on him. No, she doesn't do that struggling "let me go, you creep" thing, she's looking at every angle, exercising every option on either Getting The Fuck Outta Here or Fucking This Dude Up. She's not so much scared by the situation -- she's biding her time. Also, she's very pretty. Please don't hashtag me out of existence for that, people. I'm merely a man with needs and wants and the ability to have physiological reactions to elements that please me.

I didn't know Samuel L. Jackson was in this, which is a foolish thing to say because he's in every movie, right? He also does those credit card commercials. I can't help but think of an interview he did where he said something like how he was paid a big salary for the Shaft remake, which meant that his wife started spending more money. The problem, he said, was that because he likes to work he would also do lower budgeted non-studio-backed films that interested him but paid less, and yet his wife kept spending like he was still making Shaft money on every one of those films.

I dug that they didn't go full origin story with this Tarzan, the filmmakers assume you know his deal, and even if you don't, they do cool flashbacks that don't take away from the story or the pacing. They pick the right moments to take a break and give you piece by piece on how the legend began. But if that's still not enough for you, I don't know, go watch Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes and just change the ending in your mind and treat it like a prequel. That might work well enough, and besides, we all need some more Christophe(r) Lambert in our lives. Isn't that right, Chris?

Near the end of the month, I had myself a double feature -- that's two movies for the price of two! -- beginning with Star Trek Beyond, which I hoped wasn't going to be too confusing for me, on account of my not really having seen the previous Trek, Into Darkness, where I instead had it on in the background while I was cleaning my place. But this new one holds up on its own without any knowledge aside from what was gathered from the '09 film. You have your main crew and they're pretty much the same as the Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Scotty, and Chekov we've known from the old television and film series with only minor variations and then you have Sulu who doesn't come off very much like the Hikaru we've seen back in the day -- and that's because you can't duplicate The Takei, nor should you ever try.

Speaking of trying, I guess the filmmakers tried to make the Trek universe more openly diverse by giving Sulu a husband or boyfriend or baby papa, because that's what they did. You see Sulu happily greet his man but I don't recall seeing them smooch or anything like that, I think one put his arm around the other, which is kinda playing it safe, isn't it? That way your more conservative haters can interpret as the two men just being really good bros or something. Anyway, I guess George Takei was disappointed by it because he preferred to see a new gay character be introduced into the series. I get where he's coming from but at least they didn't queen Sulu up all of a sudden and now he's mincing about like he's onboard the U.S.S. Birdcage or something.

I'll tell you what, if I were a nameless small fry crew member, I would be praying to every God -- human or alien -- that I end up on the U.S.S. Birdcage instead of the Enterprise, because based on the last couple films, that ship must have the highest mortality rate in all of Starfleet. The last couple Treks, man, you have lots of red shirts being blown up, shot up, sucked out into the merciless void of space, etc. In Beyond, they also get their life forces sucked out or disintegrated by some kind of fuckin' nano-bees, because that's how the Big Bad in this movie gets down.

Anyway, it was good, man. If you liked the '09 Trek, you'll probably like this one. If the last one was Wrath of Khan All Over Again, then I guess this one is Search for Spock Except Spock Is Already With Us So Let's Get The Fuck Outta Here. Two things bummed me out, though:

1) seeing the late Anton Yelchin as Chekov
2) watching this alternate future world populated with human beings who have moved past The Bullshit long long ago and instead are out on spaceships and doing far off galaxy exploring and what not -- something that I used to believe as a kid would happen sometime during the existence of our species but now I'm slowly feeling that we never will, and we sure as shit won't live to see a hint of that possibility so if you ever want to see what wonders our species is capable of accomplishing, then you can go see that shit in a movie, along with the rest of the fake ass fairy tales. But hey, I guess Hooray for Movies, right?

Because, really, what's the point of evolving when we have bigger fish to fry -- like these fucking bitches thinking they can rape my childhood by taking my Ghostbusters away. Don't these slits understand that Rape is a man's sport?

Seriously though, the idea of a Ghostbusters reboot not only didn't bother me, I thought it was the right move. Harold Ramis is gone. Bill Murray wasn't interested in doing another one, he didn't even really want to do part II. Sure, Dan Aykroyd was excited about making a part three but why wouldn't he be excited with some more of that shining spotlight plus millions of dollars more in the bank to share space with those House of Blues and Crystal Skull Vodka ducats? Then you have my man Ernie Hudson who likes to work, so why not? And Sigourney Weaver's like Whatever, I'm probably gonna be in the next Alien film and they'll probably Obi-Wan Kenobi me into the Avatar sequels, so I'm good either way.

Meanwhile, Rick Moranis is too busy living life and not giving a single solitary fuck about some fuckin' movie.

But here we have Paul Feig and company busting out with Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, trying something new with it and holy shit here come the haters. I've never seen any of Feig's films because Melissa McCarthy was in them, but I understand they're all very funny, so I figured this joint was in good hands. But my hatred for dickheads getting pissy over some bullshit is stronger than my dislike of McCarthy, so I went to go see it.

All this bitching and moaning and no one ever brought up the real crime committed by this film: associating with Papa John's Pizza. Yup, our ladies are munching on that bullshit pizza in the movie and I even caught an advertisement on television featuring the company's founder/spokesman, John Schnatter playing a Ghostbuster, and no one batted a goddamn eyelash. This is the dude who shows up in all the commercials for that joint, and back when Obamacare was going into full effect, he made some comment about how in order to cover his employees health care he was going to have to raise the cost of pizza something like 15 cents. Paying an extra 15 cents so someone making minimum wage can go to the fuckin' doctor doesn't bother me a bit, what bothers me is Shithead McCuntface saying that shit like it was a negative, like he thought customers would get pissed about it and stand behind him, when in reality you can tell it was just him being annoyed that he had to pay for someone else's health insurance. Why, that money should be going to buying me a bigger boat! he probably thought, this walking shit stain. Because Left or Right, it doesn't matter -- it's your money, it's your business, do whatever the fuck you want -- but if you own a popular chain of eateries and you're the public face of the chain whether we like it or not, have the decency to be a private cunt, don't be open and proud about your cunt-ery.

Look, for all I know, the late Wendy's founder/spokesman Dave Thomas hated the concept of a living wage and he probably dreamed nightly of building a wall between Mexico and the U.S. made out of petrified burger patties bonded together with gallons of leftover Frosty to keep the mojados out but you'd never know because he never talked about that shit in public.  Sony and Feig, you fucked up -- you can cast any lady you want to bust ghosts in your movie, but when you pick a business headed by some attention-seeking anal wart of a man as a sponsor, you're crossing a fucking line that you cannot come back from nor erase. That and there's like one too many fart jokes in your movie.

But aside from that bullshit, I dug it. It's fun. It's Ghostbusters. To be real with you, I never worshipped the original GB joints the way many do. The original was an above-average Bill Murray joint, one of his better ones, but it was never my childhood. I mean, if we're talking mid-80s comedies with dashes of the fantastic that reek of My Childhood, I'm more of a Back to the Future dude, yeah that's what I'm talking about! And you know what? I wouldn't have Problem One if they ever remake that with women so long as they have good peeps on both sides of the camera. Shit, let's really get some knickers in a twist and cast a Black actress as Marty McFly. Hell yeah! (Except I fear a film where a young black person is doing nutty shit in the 1950s would have a much briefer running time and a much sadder ending.)

I liked Ghostbusters: Answer the Call and if they make another one, I'll check it out. But honestly, I'd much rather see a spinoff featuring the characters played by Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon, or pull a G.I. Joe: Retaliation and kill off Kristin Wiig and Melissa McCarthy and make it about Jones/McKinnon only, or fuck it, forget Ghostbusters entirely and just make a buddy movie with those two because they were awesome. Jones has this way of just being naturally funny -- you know, just being herself -- that had me laughing at the way she reacted to all the supernatural weirdness going on. It always felt, I don't know...true. Everyone else is kinda playing it as a Character but she comes off like a relatively normal person in this universe except Normal doesn't equal Boring. McKinnon had a touch of the chaotic agent in her, throwing things off kilter the way fellow Agents of Chaos like Harpo Marx in the pre-MGM Marx Brothers films, Johnny from Airplane!, and Wakko Warner from "Animaniacs" -- to name a few -- did in their worlds. She came off to me like a character from a Buckaroo Banzai movie we never got to see or even knew existed, like she would've felt right at home as a Hong Kong Cavalier or a Blue Blaze Irregular or HOLY SHIT -- as Buckaroo Banzai herself.

Haha, it's too bad The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai in the 8th Dimension wasn't a blockbuster smash, because it would've been worth remaking just to see all those sensitive-assed Reddit-types beating their heads against a wall (while beating their meat) over remaking that shit with a girl.

OK, maybe I went too far there. Peter Weller is the man and I'd love to see him come back as Banzai, so maybe they can bring in McKinnon as his daughter or one of the other aforementioned roles or a villain! Just put her in a Buckaroo Banzai movie, is what I'm saying. Make another Buckaroo Banzai movie is what I'm also saying. And Leslie Jones needs to be in this Buckaroo Banzai film too! But keep McCarthy away. I don't like her.

But I do like Jason Bourne, both the character and the movie. My viewing of this film was preceded by a steak lunch and bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. I was going to have a couple glasses, but I looked at the price per glass versus the price of the bottle and it was just better savings to go all the way -- that is to say, savings in the wallet if not savings on my liver. And so I stumbled down the block to the movie theater and I bought a Cherry Coke for a little caffeine jolt to keep me from going into a red wine slumber or getting a red wine headache.

That was a long way of saying I was a bit (a bit?) tipsy when I watched this film, this film that I liked but not as much as the other three Jason Bourne flicks. It didn't feel like it went up another level, it's really just more of the same. Now that's fine because that means it's a solid Bourne film, which I guess are probably going to be like Bond movies or Fast & Furious joints now if they keep this up; some will be awesome, some will be shit, and some will be fine. Jason Bourne is fine. And Matt Damon is fiiiiiiinnnneee!

OK, that's kind of a joke (or is it?). But he does look good and I actually think a little more age on the face makes him look more badass. I haven't seen the first Bourne in over ten years but I bet if I put it on it'll be like watching a baby play spy, in comparison to the bad motherfucker in this film. But then again, in this film they'll cut occasionally to Tommy Lee Jones' weathered-as-fuck visage and Damon's back to looking goo-goo-gaga again.

Paul Greengrass has to stop with his shaky camerawork and edit-whatever-you-want style, it's actually coming off more lazy than planned out. Fuckin' Captain America: Civil War looks like fuckin' Ozu's best compared to this shit. I'm sure the previous Bournes didn't look this bad, or maybe they did and it didn't bother me as much. But it bothers me now. There are fight scenes that are expertly choreographed -- at least that's what I read in the making-of articles, because I certainly can't tell in the movie. It's all close-up-close-up-medium-close-up-close-up-extreme-close-up with the sounds of kicks and punches to help you put it together. There's what I'm guessing is an awesome car chase through the Las Vegas strip but again, I'll just have to assume based on the snippets Greengrass and his ACADEMY AWARD WINNING EDITOR allow us to glimpse at. No joke, watching the action scenes made me wish I was some kind of Howard Hughes type holding the purse strings on this production so I could fire the director and editor and hire someone else to reshoot those scenes.

So this is a movie where I was more into the lead-up to the action than the actual action itself, because the lead-up is that fucking good and the action is that fucking bad. I'm not kidding when I say the Vegas Strip airplane crash landing sequence in Con Air made more visual sense than this shit.

I dug the story, if not necessarily the action. If I recall correctly, his character was believed to be dead at the end of the last movie (I haven't seen The Bourne Legacy, so for all I know JB pops up in that one after the credits to tell Jeremy Renner about the S.H.I.E.L.D. initiative), so based on what he's doing here at the start of the film, then I guess you can say that the afterlife for the now deceased Jason Bourne is to be stuck in a purgatory consisting of your average 90s direct-to-video kick-puncher about underground fights for money where the rules are There Are No Rules. Thankfully, Julia Stiles is busy being involved in some Snowden-esque fuckery and she ends up having to call on Bourne for help, otherwise we'd have no film.

And it was when I saw Julia Stiles show up that I remembered she and I are both the same age, and when I first saw her in a film she was a teenager which meant that I was teenager. But I see Julia Stiles today and it hits me that she is no longer 10 Things I Hate About You Julia Stiles, she's Old Enough To Run For President Julia Stiles. She's looks like a 35-year-old woman -- which is not a bad thing nor some kind of negative comment. I'm saying that it reminded me that I am 35 too, at least in age, if not behavior or intelligence. I'm impervious to seeing people like Matt Damon get older because Damon's 10 years older than me, which might as well be 50 years away. But Julia Stiles is MY age. And seeing similarly aged friends or relatives or anyone else I grew up watching in movies & television and actually noticing that they look older, well shit, that's getting a good long look at my own personal Dorian Gray painting right there.

Then I go back to what I said about Damon being 10 years older and I remember that just yesterday it was 10 years ago and Children of Men had just come out and in a few months Grindhouse would be hitting theaters and fuck yeah it's going to be so awesome!

2006 was last night. I'm sure it was.

My God. The time. It's going faster.

35 years old.

My father was 72 when he passed.

He never did drugs and wasn't a super-boozer.

I had already earned master degrees in both by my 20s.

So let's say I have until 70, tops. And that's if Crom doesn't go extra cruel and take me earlier.

That means I'm already halfway through my life. It's halfway over. But it only feels like I'm a quarter into it. And what have I accomplished? There's so much to do! I'm just getting warmed up! It can't be halfway done!

My God -- if there even is one.

Shit, if this fear keeps up I know I'll end up running arms wide open into religion or I'll go mad in another way.

What does that song say? "If I live too long, I'm afraid I'll die".

Too fucking right, chief!

It's feeling warm in here. I'm sweating. Now it's humid. So much green.

Jesus Christ.

Where am I?