Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Don't let your aim ever stray

I was long overdue for a new wallet.

As I entered my local mega-chain retailer, I noticed a lady of the Hispanic persuasion at the customer service section. She looked to be in the hardest version of her late fifties, and she had a sizable assortment of pants and shirts on the counter. Behind the counter, were two employees; the male employee was translating what the lady said to the female employee, and all I caught was something about not having tags for the items. 

I continued my merry way, and picked up a wallet -- one of those RFID-blocking jobs. Then I went to the self-checkout line, and I heard a commotion. It was the two employees politely-but-firmly telling the older lady that she could not take those shirts and pants back to the clothing department. She angrily shrugged them off and tried to make a beeline to her intended destination, but the male employee blocked her, and she tried to push the man out of the way. The female employee then got on a walkie-talkie and called for security, and I think she may have thought she was far enough from earshot or she just didn't care, because I distinctly heard the employee refer to the lady as "this bitch". 

The lady became increasingly unruly, her voice got louder, and this was now becoming A Scene. The security guard -- all ninety-eight pounds of gangly shy teenager -- arrived and politely-and-only-politely asked her to leave, or at least that's what I could make out, over the lady's much louder and angrier voice.  

I was only able to make out the occasional swear word from the lady's mad invective, because despite being a Spanish-speaker myself, my Spanish is Mexican Spanish, which is to say, slow enough to be able to comprehend the fully-pronounced words being spoken. Her Spanish, on the other hand, was Non-Mexican Spanish aka Cuban, Puerto Rican, Colombian, Dominican, etc., a fast-paced onslaught of partially-completed dialogue which is where the stereotypical rat-a-tat-tat speech you hear in such funny movies come from.

There's also a third kind of Spanish: Castilian, which is what you hear Gwyneth Paltrow speak impressively in interviews. It's what they speak in Spain, but they speak it with a lisp. Imagine Ice T speaking Spanish, and that's Castilian. 

Anyway, our Non-Mexican Spanish speaker was vocally motherfucking the employees, while slowly but surely inching closer to verboten clothing department. She, like everybody else, had her mask on, so I was grateful for that, but I kept expecting her to pull it off to do something stupid, like spit at people. Instead, she violently shoved the boy guard, nearly toppling him over a display stand containing discounted Blu-rays and DVDs.

Listen, I'm not really an anxious person, or at least, I only get anxiety when I have to go to parties or get-togethers or any other kind of otherwise friendly situation with friendly people. But as far as negative scenes go, I'm surprisingly chill. I've had firearms aimed at me by cops and non-cops alike -- those are long stories for another time, preferably after you've bought me dinner -- and I was either too calm and/or stupid to freak out about it. 

But this situation with the lady literally made my heart beat faster and harder with every passing second. I also began to sweat despite the excellent air-conditioning in the building. At that point, I just wanted to leave, and every cell in my being started to scream GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE. But the lone stubborn cell located somewhere in my testicular area responded with "Nah, buy the wallet, then leave." 

So I waited as the guy six feet ahead of me began to check out his various household products, all the while reasoning with my heart and my sweat glands to please -- please! -- keep it together for a couple more minutes. And that's when I heard the unmistakable sound of the absolute worst thing for me to hear. It is the sound that had, has, and will drive me into Lovecraftian depths of insanity, if I hear it long enough. It is my vocal Kryptonite, this sound, and it makes me feel helpless, anguished, scared, and enraged all at once:

It was the sound of a crying baby.

A placid-looking Asian woman and her well-behaved daughter had just entered the store, pushing a baby cart containing a toddler who should know better. But the spoiled boy on the overworked cart was pitching the biggest of fits. 

I desperately scanned the vicinity for an available register elsewhere, and there certainly were some available, if one wanted to wait behind scores of other customers. I even thought about just leaving while tossing a random employee twice the amount of the wallet's cost -- after all, I've pulled similar moves at restaurants, leaving money on the table mid-meal because of inconsiderate parents bringing their screeching spawn -- but I knew that would just cause more drama. 

Lady and gentleman, I had managed to make it for nearly a year-and-a-half of this goddamn pandemic without losing my shit, yet here I was, about to punch that clock. Because I don't believe in God, I could not pray to Her. Because I don't believe in people, I could not depend on anyone else doing the right thing. But I still believe in myself! And so, I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, and I transported myself somewhere else -- anywhere but that store.

I don't know where I went, all I remember is that it was not unlike the darkness, quiet, and serenity I fantasize about taking myself everyday. It was nice. Then I felt a tap on my shoulder and I opened my eyes and my ears and the baby was still screaming and the lady was still angry. I turned around to see who the tapper was; a young Asian woman, holding a basket, smiling while motioning towards the now-available register.

So I stumbled over to checkout my item, and looked over to see the angry lady with the clothes, now being walked off the premises while screaming mashed-together way-too-fast Spanish, but I was able to make out the swear words, and she would end every sentence by pointing at each employee and screaming: "Corona-vee-ruuus! Corona-vee-ruuus!" They managed to get her out of the store, and as she angrily walked out with the clothes, she gave out one last gesture of defiance by slamming her fist twice against the front window. 

As soon as the register spat out my receipt, I grabbed that and ran out the store with my new wallet, while making sure I was going the opposite direction of wherever she was going. When I got home, I still felt kind of rattled, so I turned on the Roku and looked for something to watch, and that's when I remembered: Oh my goodness! The Adorable Amy Adams had two films released on Netflix in the past year, and I've yet to watch them. Then it all made sense; the angry woman, the crying baby, the anxiety, the despair, all of that was the universe punishing me for ignoring our dear Triple A. 

Based on the memoirs of author/venture capitalist, J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy begins in 2011 with young Yale law student Vance burning the candle at both ends. In addition to doing the school thing, he's working three jobs to make up for what financial aid won't cover.

Money is definitely a big issue for the man, who in true modern-day American spirit, pays for things with multiple credit cards of varying limits and overextensions. It's too bad I didn't know him back then, otherwise I could've preached him the gospel of micropayments, but I'm sure he'd dismiss me on account of being a dirty ethnic and what do I know? 

Anyway, you'd think with his workload, Time is something of which Vance has little to no amount, and yet, he also has a girlfriend. I guess it wasn't enough for this asshole to have his hands full, he just has to have them fuller, and just as he's about to begin a week of interviews for a potential paid summer internship at one of the big law firms -- RING RING goes the celly. It's a call from his sister back home with the bad news that his mom has not only gone back to bootin' up that damn heroin, the dumb bitch has gone and gotten herself OD'd.

And so Vance drives his fried baloney sandwich-lovin' ass back home to Ohio in an attempt to get help for his absolute mess of a mother, and the film flashes back to Vance's youth in 1997, a year that shall remain forever glorious because that was the year that Good Burger graced silver screens all across this great nation. Unfortunately, this movie never acknowledges the release of that film, but at one point they do play "My Boo" by Ghost Town DJs, so I'll let it slide.

We watch as younger tubbier 1997 Vance lives with his mother Bev, played by The Adorable Amy Adams, but in the case of this film, I will have to refer to our Triple A as The Aggravating Amy Adams, because my word, what a goddamn trial! As we find out throughout the film, Bev wasn't always a completely addled chore of a human being. Having graduated high school, she went on to have a respectable career as a nurse, but somewhere along the way she started sneaking away an extra pill or two from her patient's prescriptions, and so on and so forth.

Faster than you can say Mommie Dearest, Bev displays magnificent feats of head-spinning manic-depression; she'll start as a happy loving mom who will gleefully drive her son to go buy some baseball cards, then one wrong word about one of the latest in a long line of boyfriends later, she'll stomp on the gas pedal and wonder aloud about just ending it for the both of them in the kind of fiery car wreck that would make Duane Hall jizz in his pants. 

I think it's supposed to be frightening to watch, but as someone who hates kids -- especially crying ones -- I got a huge kick out of watching Amy Adams beat the shit of this child. She's raining down thunder and calling him names and while I'm sure other viewers might be thinking "She's a monster!", I was like Go Amy Go! 

(By the way, the opening of the film features another adult punching another child, and that was also something I applauded during this film and will applaud in any other film.) 

Adams is pretty amped up throughout this movie, and that's both a highlight and a lowlight. To clarify, I don't think it's Adams' fault and I found it easy to find the truth in her portrayal of a boyfriend-hopping drug addict with emotional issues.

OK, I know what you're thinking, you're thinking "Well, of course you don't think it's her fault, it's never your precious Amy Adams' fault". First off, get your fuckin' head -- get your fuckin' head straight -- she's not my Amy Adams, she's her own Amy Adams, thank you very much. And second, nobody's perfect and everybody is fallible, even The Triple A.  

But I don't think it's a bad performance, it's a lopsided one -- and I don't blame her so much as the filmmakers for that. See, the problem is that the movie doesn't give us nearly enough of sober even-tempered Bev to compare & contrast with the drugged-out hotheaded Bev that we see, like, ninety percent of the time -- and so, where are we to find any range, where are we to find the tragedy in what her character has become, if we don't ever really get to see that much of the better angels of her nature?

When you look over at the comparatively subtle performance by Glenn Close as Vance's grandmother Mamaw, I don't think it's a surprise that she ended up being nominated for an Academy Award while Adams wasn't nominated at all. Of course, I use the word "subtle" for lack of a better one. Maybe "nuanced" would be a better one? Maybe not?

What I'm saying is that as Mamaw, Close plays a tough-but-fair granny with a cigarette practically fused to her hand. But she's not just playing a one-note type, we get to see more of what makes her tick. For example, we find out that in her earlier years she ran away from a troubled home, only to have found herself in a brand-new version of the same thing.

On the other hand, we're mostly told that Bev grew up observing some of this turmoil, and we're told that she was particularly close to her father, despite the growing rift between the family. It would've been nice to actually see some of this, the way the film was eager to have us see Bev's wild and crazy antics, giving us plenty of Effect but very little Cause.

I get that there's only so much to get across in under two hours, so what I'm saying is maybe director Ron Howard and screenwriter Vanessa Taylor should've worked more on finding the right balance before committing anything to celluloid -- ahem, I mean digital files.

It's too bad because here and there we see hints of Howard and Taylor's potential in making a very effective film; for example, the flashback format enhances the heartbreak because when we see a scene of Bev choosing to clean her act up, it only hurts more, because we know from the present day scenes that it didn't work out that way for her. 

But overall I was left feeling as if I had watched an early rough cut for what could've been a really good movie. Instead, Hillbilly Elegy is kind of a mess that's less a proper adaptation of the book and more like a haphazard dumping of all the book's various threads into Thunderdome and forcing them all to fight each other for narrative supremacy: It's a mother & daughter story, a mother & son story, it's a fish out of water tale, a fish back in water tale, it's a drama about dealing with an addict in the family, a comedy about cultural differences, and an overall lesson on how one must not fall into the same rut that previous generations fell into because of family trauma.  

Regarding that last part; I did feel that the running thread about characters being placed at the crossroads of doing the right thing, and sticking with family, right or wrong, was something Howard and Taylor did get 100-percent right.

Now I haven't read the book and for all I know, it handles all the above-mentioned themes, topics, and plotlines a lot better. Not that I'll ever find out, because I'm not gonna read that fuckin' book. I mean, the only reason I watched this movie was because The Adorable Amy Adams starred in it. But I don't give an inkling of an iota of a shit about J.D. Vance, and I know the ending already: He goes on to become an ardent chugger of Orange MAGA-cock. The End.

The second Amy Adams film I watched on Netflix is also an adaptation of a book by a morally questionable author, (and where she also plays an unstable character): The Woman in the Window, written by A.J. Finn -- and I was about to do an entire bit about how that's not even his real name, and what kind of cowardly douchebag would write under a pseudonym?


While we're talking similarities, I found myself way beyond flattered upon realizing that my favorite living actor is playing...me! I mean, look, Adams' character, Anna, is a shut-in who keeps her human interactions to a minimum, preferring to plant herself on her comfy couch drinking and watching movies all day until she passes out. It's like looking in a mirror, only not.

Obviously they changed many details, like the name, gender, and occupation -- for the record, I am not a female child psychologist recently separated from her husband and child. I don't live in a NYC brownstone, nor do I rent out the basement of my brownstone to some dude played by Kurt Russell's son.

Speaking of that dude, there's a scene between him and Adams that shows quite possibly the biggest difference between the movie's version of me and the real me who is currently talking to you, and that is the way we celebrate my favorite holiday, Halloween. Let's just say we wouldn't see eye to eye on that issue.

Also, Anna suffers from genuine agoraphobia, whereas I am just insufferable. Anna's attempts to step outside result in her getting overwhelmed by her phobia, whereas my attempts result in me getting overwhelmed by my hatred of humanity, then returning home to bitch about these people on various social media posts and blog/podcasts. 

By the way, my misanthropy is why I didn't have as difficult a time as others during this pandemic, because as much as I enjoy going out to eat and going to movies, I enjoy not going out even more. If anything, the outside world completely showed me its whole ass during this past year-and-a-half, the outside world confirmed my worst suspicions about it, the outside world said "It's OK to stay inside". 

The plot begins a-brewin' when Anna partakes in her other usual pastime: Being a fucking snoop, which is something that I would never do. But here she is, spying on her new neighbors across the street, played by Gary Oldman and Julianne Moore.

They have a son, played by somebody's somebody, and he's one of those shy awkward teens that make you either want to hug and tell them It's OK, or you want to slap the shit out of them and order them to stand up straight and Speak Loud Enough So Everybody Can Hear You.

Anna gets friendly with the son, becomes wine buddies with the wife (who's amusingly named Jane Russell, like the actress), and is the requisite minimum of polite with the husband.  But soon Anna finds herself in a Rear Window kinda situation, except in this case, it's more like Front Window, because it appears that she spies with her little eyes the husband doing something really bad -- maybe even permanent -- to the wife. But good luck convincing everybody else, Anna. 

See, something happened in Anna's recent past; it is the reason for her agoraphobia, the separation from her family, and the lovely prescription drugs that she washes down with vino. Anna is all kinds of all over the place, and even her shrink is kinda getting tired of her shit. The shrink, by the way, is played by Tracy Letts, best known for writing the plays "Bug" and "Killer Joe" and for writing the screenplay to this movie.

Director Joe Wright makes a pretty canny choice of having Anna's everyday movie-watching consist of Alfred Hitchcock classics. Normally I'm against this sort of thing, because showing classic movies within your movie usually results in people wishing they were watching the classic instead. But I think it works here -- regardless of how you feel about this movie -- because it allows the viewer to consider the very real possibility that Anna is just seeing things.

Hell, I remember spending a three-day weekend at home fucked up on booze, weed, and shrooms, watching nothing but Shaw Brothers kung fu films all day and night. By Tuesday, I was convinced everybody around me had disgraced me and the Shaolin Temple. So why wouldn't Anna think she's in the middle of some real Hitchcockery?

Oh, that's another difference between Me and Anna; you can straight up O.J. a bitch six feet in front of me, and as far I'm concerned, I didn't see shit, I don't know shit, I don't want to know shit. I was busy tying my shoes the entire time, officer. But no, Anna's calls the pigs over and digs herself an increasingly deeper hole with a She's Imagining Things shovel. 

Now the movie is referencing Hitchcock, and it's aping Hitchcock, but the end result actually felt more like Dario Argento. This felt kinda/sorta like an American giallo at times, with a wonderfully garish mix of colors and lighting, a pulpy plot that favors trash over class, and where emotion beats out logic -- it just needed an extra on-screen murder or two or three. I don't think it's as good as early Argento joints like Deep Red or The Bird with the Crystal Plumage -- this is an American distillation of an Italian genre, after all -- but it's still a fun watch, if watched in that context.

I understand the reviews for this are pretty terrible, and I kinda get it; with a prestige cast and crew of award-winners and nominees behind it, one might expect something a bit more hoity-toity, and this ain't that. But I will not stand anybody who might have the audacity to say that Amy did not come to play.

She is excellent as Anna, and she manages to come off as both prickly and wounded -- probably from being so prickly, she can't help but hurt herself the most. She has a couple of certified emotional bangers late in the film; both are monologues, one given to a group of people, another to a camera, and either one would've made for a great Oscar clip in the category of Best Actress in a Fun Trashy American Sorta-Giallo. 

The film was delayed multiple times -- much to my dismay -- partially due to COVID-19 making a theatrical release not the most eligible option, and partially due to reshoots. I don't know what came out of the reshoots, but if I had to guess, the climax of the film was one of the results, because it does feel the most out-of-place with the rest of the movie. I've nothing against the climax, but I wished the film would've slowly worked its way to that wildly different tone, rather than suddenly whiplashing the audience into it. 

Also, I wonder if the reshoots are the reason Jennifer Jason Leigh's role seems so minor for someone so major; she doesn't really get much to do with a role that could've been given to somebody cheaper for the same effect.

Actually, her role isn't that much smaller from the rest of the supporting cast, who definitely live up to the "supporting" part, because this really is The Amy Adams Show. If Anna can't leave her house, that means the movie doesn't leave her house. She spends most of her time alone, and so the other characters are left to be occasional visitors or intruders. If I hadn't known about the novel, I would've totally assumed that this was based on one of Tracy Letts' plays, because this story could easily play out on a stage.

While the movie is expertly made and very well-acted, I couldn't help but think that there was an even crazier and better version of this story begging to be told, just aching to let its freak flag fly, and I'm afraid Joe Wright was just a bit too buttoned up a filmmaker for the job. This needed someone like Brian De Palma or Paul Verhoeven or Julie Taymor -- someone with a strong sense of the operatic, absurd, and theatrical. They also would've known how to make the climax and the rest of the film feel like one and the same.

Hell, why not give it to Argento himself? It could've been his best American work -- or his worst movie ever, although I don't know how the latter would be possible, unless he had Brian Tyree Henry's character turn into a praying mantis somewhere along the way.

Minor complaints aside, I thought this nutty little ditty fit the bill, and it passes the test as actual entertainment and not simply an Amy Adams thirst watch, because I'm pretty sure I'd still dig this movie if it instead starred, uh, I don't know, uh, maybe, uh someone like Isla Fisher, or Karen Gillan, or Jessica Chastain, or Emma Stone, or Christina Hendricks, or Bryce Dallas Howard -- you know, any random actress would do. 

Well, it was nice while it lasted. I don't mean the Amy Adams double feature, even though that was nice as well. I'm talking about my brief post-vaccinated return to the outside world. I got to eat in a couple of restaurants, went to see a couple movies in actual movie theaters. But I'm going back inside. Not because of a virus or its various variants, no way. My reason is something else, something that I feel was best expressed by one America's last great poets of the late 20th century, Andrew Dice Clay, in his 1993 special No Apologies: "...'cause people are scumbags". 

Monday, March 22, 2021


I'm officially out of the movie rambling request business -- or so I thought I was, until I remembered that I still had one request left, and it was from my friend Alec who asked if I would ramble about the 2002 Brian De Palma film Femme Fatale. I said "sure thing buddy", because it would be a good one to go out on, and it was a film I had already seen and watched, having seen it twice on opening weekend in the Fall of 2002.

And as luck would have have it, the Alamo Drafthouse in Downtown Los Angeles was about to have a 35mm screening of the film, and I thought "perfect, just in time for my ramblings about the film".

Except this was February 2020, and it was no longer Fear that was infectious, and what was Over There was now coming Over Here. Priorities changed fast, and I felt my time was better spent panic-stocking on food, water, and ammo, rather than jerking off about a movie for a friend. Wait, that didn't sound right, I don't mean I was literally jerking off for my friend, I mean -- you know what, let's just move on.

So, speaking from the relatively calmer waters of March 2021, I can say it's been one hell of a year, even for those who weren't personally affected by The Virus That Will Not Be Named, and while it's certainly not over yet, at least...um, at least we can....um...

Ah, I know. At least I won't have to shake anybody's hand anymore. I was never a fan of handshakes to begin with, partially because of my existing germophobia, and because I hate having to squeeze the other person's hand so hard, lest they think less of me. Silly me, I always thought you got to know somebody by how they treated people, and not by the strength of their grip.

Sometimes I'd get a person practically crushing my hand with their grip, and then I would have to respond by whipping out my dick to show him who's boss. Which nine times out of ten, would mean they were boss. So I'm done with handshakes forever. From now on, it's namaste & bowing and if you don't like it, you can take that bigger cock of yours and go fuck yourself.

The film opens with Billy Wilder's 1944 film noir classic Double Indemnity playing on the tee-vee, and I always felt that showing a classic film within your film is a move as dicey as Andrew Clay, and more often than not, the unintentional result is that the viewer is reminded that there are better films out there that he or she could be spending their time on, rather than the film on which they're currently wasting their time.

In the case of Femme Fatale, it works. Not that I feel they're equals, because I don't -- sorry Bri, but I gotta go Team Wilder on this one. But what De Palma is doing by showing you a scene from that film is making it very clear to the viewer that he knows damn well that he's not reinventing the wheel, but rather, doing his own spin on a genre. And by introducing the main character of his film watching that film, he's planting some seeds that will sprout big time by the end of Femme Fatale -- and based on the constant liquid motif that runs throughout this picture, De Palma is watering the hell out of those seeds. 

And who is this main character, anyway? Well, she's Laure Ash, played by Rebecca Romijn, who is credited as Rebecca Romijn-Stamos on account of her being married to John Stamos at the time. She has since divorced Stamos and is currently married to Jerry O'Connell, and so she now goes by the name Rebecca Romijn-Fat Kid-From-Stand By Me.

So Laure is introduced watching Double Indemnity in her hotel room, but is then interrupted by a dude who turns out to be her partner in a heist they are about to pull off at the Cannes Film Festival located conveniently across the street. What follows is a fifteen-minute sequence that I feel fits very comfortably among De Palma's best set pieces; it takes place during a movie premiere and involves Laure, her partners-in-crime Racine and Black Tie, and a model named Veronica who is wearing a gold and diamond number that, uh, I don't know if it qualifies as a top or is just a piece of jewelry, but whatever it is, it leaves very little to the imagination as far as tits go. It's like, I guess I'm left to imagine what her nipples look like? But aside from that, I can draw this chick from memory; it would be a stick figure with long hair...

(I never said I was Bazille.)

The movie being screened at this premiere is the 1999 film East/West, directed by Régis Wargnier and starring Sandrine Bonnaire, and I guess De Palma is a fan of this movie about Russian expats returning to Soviet Russia only to realize you really can't ever go home again. Whatever the case, both Bonnaire and Wargnier appear as themselves in the film, and I like to imagine De Palma telling Wargnier about his idea to include him in this movie where he's going to play a dude who is unknowingly cucked by a tall blonde.

See, Veronica is Wargnier's date at the premiere, and Laure's part in the plan involves seducing her away from the director, so they can have some We Time in the ladies room. And so, Wargnier's left in the screening room, watching his film play to a captivated audience -- but what's the point when you don't have a sexy broad sitting next to you to impress with such an experience? This poor man was depending on the thunderous applause to get this chick wet, thereby doing half of the work for him, and thereby making it easier to slip in the saucisse later that night.

Instead, he can only politely smile at his leading lady Bonnaire -- who he either already banged during the making of his movie, or he fucked it up and got friend-zoned somewhere along the way -- and he can only sit impatiently while both Veronica and Laure are in the restroom, dyking out harder than a couple of Tegan and Sara fans hopped up on Ecstasy. And while Veronica is caught up in the rapture of lady love, Laure slowly strips the diamond-encrusted coils away from the model, and drops them to the floor, while Black Tie waits in the next stall to swipe it all away.

It is all hypnotically shot by Luc Besson's regular cinematographer Thierry Arbogast, and it's lushly scored by composer Ryuichi Sakamoto -- who is doing a little bit of swiping of his own with a track that sounds very much like Ravel's Bolero. While there is dialogue spoken during this sequence, the visuals are strong enough that one could watch this with the sound off and understand it 100-percent, as with most of De Palma's best sequences. One would understand the various actions and reactions by the perpetrators and victims of this heist, and one would definitely understand that both Romijn and the actress playing Veronica (Rie Rasmussen) are absolute goddamn smoke shows here. 

By the way, let's get this straight: With the constant fetishistic lensing of women and their gyrating bodies and lovingly filmed lips against other female lips, this movie is male gaze as fuck. And as a pig with a penis, I have no problem with it whatsoever. But if you have a problem with it, well, there are plenty of places on the Internet to go pitch a fit and bitch about it -- as for me, I'm just gonna sit back and laugh and thank God I'm a part of the patriarchy because this is a maaaann's world! 

Suffice it to say, things don't go as planned, blood is spilled, and even worse, names are called. It ends with Laure skipping off with the diamonds, while a bleeding Black Tie informs his partner about this betrayal over the radio mic, telling him something in French that the subtitles translate as "The bitched double-crossed us". 

Now, that's not a typo on my part, that's how it's spelled in the subtitles: B-I-T-C-H-E-D. As in someone having complained in the past tense. 

I wondered if De Palma meant "bitch", B-I-T-C-H, but there was a mistake with the subtitle people. But then I thought, really? I mean, De Palma comes off as someone who'd be a bit of an exacting perfectionist in his work. Would he allow such an obvious error to slip by? Hell, it didn't so much "slip" as it fuckin' did a Michigan J. Frog "Hello My Baby!" dance across the stage. I've seen it spelled this way in the 35mm prints I've watched, it's spelled this way in the Region 1 DVD from Warner Brothers, and it's spelled this way on the version I watched last weekend on HBO Max.

No, it can't be a mistake, it must be intentional, I thought. And so I looked up other uses and definitions for "bitched", and here's what I found as the top definition on Urban Dictionary: 

Uh, so maybe it was a mistake. 

A lot of Femme Fatale's fun comes from not knowing where it's going, and tripping out when it gets there. Granted, this film came out in 2002 and that's enough for me to recite my standard sarcastic asshole routine about how I don't want to spoil a film that is now old enough to vote. But this certainly wasn't some blockbuster movie that took the world by storm that everybody quotes from, nor was it spoofed in one of the Scary Movies or one of those Seltzer/Friedberg pieces of shit -- this movie bombed and was pretty much forgotten except by film geeks and maybe Mr. Skin types. 

So I won't get into it in any further detail that could potentially spoil it. But the funny thing is, there is an alternate trailer for it that rather cleverly spoils the entire film if you pay super close attention; it plays nearly the entire film from beginning to end in very fast motion, occasionally stopping for a moment at regular speed, before speeding up again, and it goes all the way to the end credits. It's one of my favorite movie trailers and you can find it online

Anyway, skipping some plot developments here and there, we jump ahead seven years, and the men Laure double-crossed are back on the search for her, and more importantly, the diamonds. We are then introduced to a photographer played by Antonio Banderas; his name is Nicolas Bardo (no relation to Brick), and he's not so much out-of-work as he's just not really looking for it. After a phone call from his manager (voiced by an uncredited John Stamos), he takes a quick-cash gig where all he has to do is take a photo of an ambassador's wife. 

This leads to Bardo making the acquaintance of Laure Ash, who is trying to lay low in an airport hotel. Bardo, thinking himself quite the slickster, barges into her room, taking on the guise of a very effeminate man. Some may find this portrayal offensive, and these same people may also find themselves unable to comfortably sit down for the rest of their lives, on account of the excruciating pain emanating from their backsides. 

Wait, I'm afraid that didn't come out right. I was trying to say that these people are butt-hurt, but not like something caused them to have a sore ass, such as an uncomfortable chair or a leatherman's fist. And I'm certainly not making the connection that the kind of people that would have a literally hurt butt would be the ones to get offended. I mean I'm talking about overly sensitive types, that's what I -- oh my god, first I quoted the N-word, now I'm implying that the homos can't take a joke, oh geez -- PLEASE DON'T CANCEL ME. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is this: Antonio Banderas worked with Pedro Almodóvar before Femme Fatale, and he's continued to work with him after Femme Fatale. So I'm sure it's all good. 

As Bardo, Banderas plays someone who has probably gone through life being crafty in both the literal and figurative sense: as a part-time paparazzo, he knows all the tricks in getting the perfect shot from those who'd rather not have their picture taken, and he also has this giant collage of photos on his apartment wall, forming one giant landscape of the view outside his window.

But soon Bardo finds himself in over his head, as it becomes increasingly clear that he is going up against someone craftier and who looks a lot better in a pair of panties. Or so I assume. For all I know, that sexy Spanish stallion might rock a French cut like nobody's business. But until I actually see that -- and god knows I've tried -- I will have to give the advantage to Laure. 

The second half of the film becomes a Parisian journey for Bardo in and out of sterile hotel rooms, standard police stations, and seedy night spots. I'm not kidding about those seedy night spots, by the way. I mean, one of the patrons at a scuzzy bar full of drunken, horned-up Frenchmen is none other than Le Tenia from Gaspar Noe's Irreversible -- so you know it's gotta be bad.  

Despite not being given any moments of what my friend Alec and I refer to as Pure Unadulterated Banderas (basically moments where he hams it up), Antonio Banderas is very well-cast and game for a role that requires no trace of ego, as his character finds himself increasingly humbled. A role like Bardo could be ruined by some actors who would try to maintain too much strength throughout, plus, going back to ego, there are more than a few scenes where it's very clear that Rebecca Romijn has a good three or four inches of height on the dude.

I love that; because more often than not, Hollywood does that thing where they always have to make the shorter male actor appear to be as tall as his female co-star, or worse, taller. Because I guess the average moviegoer isn't ready for that idea, that women can possibly be taller than men. So points to Banderas and De Palma for not giving a fuck about Romijn looking like she could easily cradle Banderas and rock him to sleep. And I say this as someone who pays women to rock him to sleep. Don't kink-shame me.

Of course, the tall woman/short man visual helps to further sell the idea that Banderas' character is outmatched compared to Laure Ash, but I feel that's more of an unintentional bonus that was realized after the leads were cast in these roles. 

Banderas is great as the schmuck, and Romijn is very good as the titular femme, doing a fine job with either being conniving or just simply not giving a fuck. Although to be honest with you, I actually thought she did a better job at playing hurt or fragile. And it left me wanting to give her a hug -- and not the kind of hug that I already want to give her, you know, a hug that allows me to perv out while feeling her body against mine while smelling her and all that, no. I mean, like a genuine hug of compassion and warmth. Or so I've been told about such hugs, if such hugs actually exist.

Not that it matters, because if I'm not doing handshakes, that means hugs are out the window as well. Because while you motherfuckers are trying to go back to normal, I'm prepped for the new normal: I'm talking Demolition Man for real, which I knew was coming. I didn't go around saying "be well" all this time for shits & giggles, you know.

I am not as well-versed in Rebecca Romijn's roles as an actor; most of what I've seen her in is from the late 90s and early 00s. I know her as Mystique from the X-Men movies, and I know her as The Bearded Lady from Dirty Work, and I know her from that Rollerball remake and the audio commentary she did on said Rollerball remake. But this rewatch reminded me to search out any other movies where she shows a more vulnerable side, because I think that's what she does best. 

Something staring me in the face this whole time that I'm just noticing now is that Romijn's current husband Jerry O'Connell was in De Palma's previous film to this one, Mission to Mars. And at the time, Banderas was married to Melanie Griffith, who had worked with De Palma in both Body Double and The Bonfire of the Vanities. I don't know what my point is other than some random trivia with which to pad out these ramblings. But I'm sure they all at some time or another have compared Working With Brian De Palma stories at some time or another, I'm sure.  

Anyway, this is all just a long way to say that I've always really liked the film. It never tops its opening set-piece, but that's because it's really the only set-piece, and it's kind of a ballsy move by De Palma, as if he were saying "OK, normally this is what a movie leads to, but I'm just gonna go ahead and start with it, and then you're still gonna stick around to see what happens next because I'm gonna rock your world in a different kind of way"; and he does.

That opening heist precedes a fun, sexy, and twisty joint, complete with the usual audacious De Palma touches here and there -- both in the screenplay and in the way he presents these scenes. There's split screen, slow motion, hypnotic camera movements, giddy splashes of blood, tits, and ass, Gregg Henry, and just the general overall feeling that De Palma is gleefully fucking with you -- the viewer -- the entire time. And you either go with it and enjoy the ride, or you feel strongly negative about the experience.

In other words, it's 100 percent pure Brian De Palma, in the same way that films like Blow Out and Raising Cain are 100 percent pure De Palma. Movies like The Untouchables and Mission: Impossible, as awesome as they are, are more like 70-80 percent pure De Palma. 

Femme Fatale is also probably the last solid film -- pure or otherwise -- that De Palma has made, as of this Foul Year of Our Lord 2021. I remember liking his following film The Black Dahlia in 2006, but I also remember making a lot of excuses for it. Then came his 2007 found footage Iraq War movie Redacted, which wasn't my cup of tea. Then I saw his 2019 film, Domino, which felt less like a real movie and more like the pilot for an internationally produced television series, the kind that plays in syndication on weekend afternoons. I've yet to see his 2012 film, Passion, and so I hope that when I finally get around to that one, it will feel more like the De Palma I know and love. If not, well, you can't have everything, right? 

Well, I don't have anything else to say, so instead I'd like to close out by catching up on some comments and e-mail from my fans. I mean, I haven't posted a real rambling since December 2019, I'm sure I have some people out there who have wanted to stay in touch.

So here's the first comment: It's regarding my post on the film Righteous Kill, starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. Oh man, I posted that one back in 2009! Anyway, this comment was left on my Wordpress site, which is the same as the Blogger site, it's just a backup. Anyway, it's from someone named "George" and he says: 

OK, cool. He's clearly referencing the skater character in the film played by Rob Dyrdek, and he certainly was a moron, but I think he's a few years too old to be considered a millennial. But I get where you're coming from, George, and I appreciate the comment!

Next, I have a comment left on my Instagram, where I leave much shorter ramblings on movies, and you can find me there at "efcontentment". And this comment is regarding my post on the Paul Thomas Anderson film Punch Drunk Love, starring Adam Sandler, and which came out the same year as Femme Fatale. 2002 was a good year for movies! Anyway, he says the following: 

Well, I don't think Anderson was doing a review on Adam Sandler's character, but more of a study, and I felt this was a very interesting study on an emotionally fragile human being who was able find a meaningful connection with a lady who was able to understand him. And what you call "personal life crap", I call the intriguing drama that comes from Sandler's day-to-day interactions with others as he tries not to get emotionally overwhelmed. Anyway, thanks for the comment, oh and I almost forgot, in regards to your opening question, the WTF podcast with Marc Maron has nothing to do with this blog -- but I sure wish it did! 

And finally I have an e-mail sent to me by a "Jonathan Baker" and it's titled "amyadamsismywaifu" and it says: 

And so I won't. Anyway, thanks for reading -- now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to the bank! 

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Not *too* bad.

This year for me has been about preparing for the worst during the first half, and then hunkering down and trying to distract myself from the worst during the second half. And while coming back to blog and podcast long-form style seems like the surest way to accomplish the latter, I find curling up into the fetal position and sleeping during every spare moment to be a lot easier. 

But I do intend to continue this in some manner, I really do. See, I have been posting mini-ramblings regularly on Facebook, Instagram, and Letterboxd, and I've been thinking of intertwining them with the blog/podcast, if for no other reason than to stay in practice. Because I swear, every time I do a new episode, I have to learn the whole process all over again, having spent too much time between shows. I don't know where I got this idea that every rambling has be a fuckin' tome. If it's short, it's short, and if it's long, it's long -- that's what I tell the ladies and that's what I'm telling you. 

We'll see what happens. So long as things in the outside world remain shitty or get shittier, I'll probably need something to occupy my mind between now and whenever I catch the 'rona -- or the 'rona catches a loved one -- and then I'll either not want to do anything anymore, or I won't be able to do anything anymore. 

And while I'm not back on my own podcast train yet, I did hop on to someone else's for one night; I've been listening to the Trick or Treat Radio podcast for the past couple of years and really enjoy it. The program consists of four friends reviewing movies (generally horror and genre fare) and it's lots of fun to listen to them discuss movies and get on each other's nerves. Usually when a podcast starts up a Patreon, I book from the motherfucker, but not with these guys. In fact, I became a Patreon, uh, patron.

As a member of the higher Patreon tier, I was invited to be a guest on the show and pick the films they were to review. Because I was able to pick any movie -- not just relegated to the type of films they normally cover -- and because I was genuinely interested to hear their opinions on this movie, I picked the 2017 Paul Thomas Anderson film Phantom Thread

For the second movie, I picked the 1984 Philip Yordan production Death Wish Club, which I have rambled about before on this blog years ago, under the title Gretta -- one of many alternate titles for this film.  

You can listen or download the show by clicking this link. You can also watch me on the included YouTube archive of the live stream, if you feel the need to see me looking way too shiny -- but be aware that due to tech issues on YouTube's end, the three-hour podcast is a fifty-minute video with random skips along the way. (Naturally, seeing less of me makes it a better video.)

Once the alcohol put my anxiety in a chokehold, I had a good time, and I'm sure I embarrassed myself enough during my ramblings to make it entertaining for others. I certainly insult many of you by calling you lazy bastards, but take comfort in knowing that as someone who has not posted a new blog/podcast entry in nearly a year, I am indeed the blackest pot among all you kettles.

I also mistakingly confuse Peru for Uruguay somewhere during the show, and if you don't know what I'm talking about, you're just gonna have to go over and listen to the episode. See people, that's called a teaser. 

Sunday, December 8, 2019

I also suck at responding to e-mails.

I'm a shitty friend when you get right down to it, specifically when friends request things of me, like, I don't know, let's just say, uh, ramblings about movies on this blog.

The way it goes is this: a friend will ask "Hey, I'd like to read you talk about this particular movie" and I'll go "Sure thing, buddy" and my reaction should be "Holy cats, somebody actually reads this blog? I should show them my appreciation and get to work on this immediately!"

Instead, it'll be about a year before I go, "Well, I guess I'll blog about this movie now" and then I'll watch the movie -- which is the easiest part of the whole process -- and right after the movie, I'll sit down in front of the computer, open up the ol' Blogger, stare at the blank white page on the screen for a few minutes, and then I'll open up another window and spend the next few hours watching YouTube videos featuring cats or dogs or cats and dogs or videos about credit cards or videos about food reviews or videos about video game play-throughs and OK wait wait wait wait wait wait wait --

Don't get me wrong. I know watching-other-people-play-video-games sounds kinda lame, but let me clarify myself -- let me defend myself -- and tell you that I don't watch those stupid "Let's Play" videos, you know, the ones where people talk through their play-through, as if I cared about what they have to say as they play? No way! I just want to see somebody beat a game I've had difficulty with in the past, just so I can see how to go about it if I were to play that game again.

As for the food review videos, I'm very selective; I don't go in for those "mukbang" or gang bang or whatever they call those videos about people eating on camera. And I certainly don't go in for any of those videos featuring stupid fat fucks making stupid fat fucking faces on the thumbnail next to a picture of a slice of pizza. I'm not gonna click on that thumbnail just to watch some stupid fat fuck shoving pizza in his face and go OMIGAAAWWWD THIS PIZZA BE SEX ON WHEELS DOWN MY TRRROAT, SON!

But while I'm in Unreasonable Hater mode, you know which YouTube videos I will never understand actually having an existence? The absolute worst kind? Reaction videos. These are the ones where someone or a group of someones will sit and watch a clip of a comedian or a movie trailer or something like that, and these are easy to spot because their thumbnails always consist of that person or persons sitting next to each other making some goofy-ass reaction face -- maybe a couple with their hands up to their mouths while making the OMIGOD face, like people do in movies but never in real life -- and usually on the lower right hand corner is the video to which they're making said reactions.

Do you see what I'm doing here? Do you see? I'm procrastinating, I'm hesitating over here and that's how I do when it comes to other people requesting things of me. It's hard enough to sit my fat ass down to write about stuff I plan to write about, but it really comes down to the plain and simple fact that if I have a choice between spending my time talking about a movie I watched or using that time to just watch another movie? Well, sweetie, I don't know how to tell you this -- or actually, I do know: I'd rather use my time to watch more movies.

And by saying this, by confessing this -- I realize that the true enemy is not my procrastination, it is not what I choose to do with my time, but it is time itself that is the bad guy. If I had more time to sit around and watch movies and eventually get around to doing something, that would be great. But instead time is what it is: the ultimate prison, where I'm held in this cage of hours, minutes, seconds, and the clock just keeps ticking ever so forward towards finality. I need more time! Then maybe I can fit in all the stuff I want to do.

But alas, time remains something linear and fleeting, for it is but a strict progression of cause to effect -- it is not some wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff in which I can hop back and forth and up and down and everywhere else. Because I'm not a Time Lord, and that lady and gentleman, is how you make a clumsy-ass segue.

Requested by my buddy Kris Wallace -- at least I hope we're still buddies -- the 1996 made-for-television film Doctor Who: The Movie begins with a Time Lord known only as The Doctor, who is transporting the remains of The Master, who is an evil Time Lord and also the Big Bad of this entire series.

Maybe I should take it back a little bit, in case you're too far from a phone to Google it; this is a show that's been around since the 1960s and it's about these beings known as Time Lords -- they're aliens or demi-gods or whatever, I don't know -- and they have the ability to do the hipping and the hopping around time and space. The series focuses on one particular Time Lord -- that would be our boy The Doctor -- going on many different adventures along with his Companion, which I guess is the proper English way to say "sidekick".

They get around in a time & space craft called a TARDIS, which looks like a British police box because those were a common sight back during the show's creation in the Jolly Old. Had the show been created today, he'd probably get around in a food truck.

Like James Bond, the Doctor has been played by various actors over the years, but unlike James Bond, they actually acknowledge the change by explaining that the Doctor has to regenerate into a new body whenever there's too much mileage and wear & tear on the current one. Like the James Bond movies, the otherwise consistently released series took a hiatus between the late 80s and the mid-90s. Unlike the James Bond movies, the mid-90s return of Doctor Who resulted in another hiatus that ended up lasting nine years.

Also, unlike the James Bond movies, Doctor Who is a television series. I don't know why I even compared the two when they are completely different things. Why did I do that? Because they're both from the U.K.? That's some embarrassing shit right there. That's like welcoming your British friend to the United States with a boxed set of The Best of Benny Hill, assuming your Limey pal is gonna dig it because Hey, Benny Hill is from the U.K. too! And let's go get some fish & chips too, because that's what you people eat, right? That's really fucking embarrassing and I apologize for that and so let's move on.

So the film begins with The Doctor chilling out in his TARDIS, the remains of The Master stored in a box, but because the Master is literal slime, he (or it) manages to ooze out the box and fuck with the TARDIS so that it has to make an emergency landing on Earth -- specifically San Francisco 1999 (as played by Vancouver 1996), where we are then introduced to some Asian-American bros having a shootout with other Asian-American bros. I assume they're bros, because after shooting at some people, they all give each other high-fives.

The Doctor arrives, stepping out of his TARDIS just in time to get caught in the crossfire and take a couple slugs to the chest -- that's just the preferred way for Americans to greet visiting foreigners -- and the sole surviving Asian-American bro on the scene, Chang Lee, gets him an ambulance.

Lee must've fallen out of bro-love with his bros, because despite his friends having just been killed in the shootout, he never even gives them a passing thought from this point forward. His priorities are on claiming The Doctor's personal belongings from the hospital, which really, that's just a shitty way to live your life, stealing the belongings from some dying Hobbit in an emergency room. Why does Lee not care about his dead friends? Who knows what had happened before we were introduced to his character? Maybe Lee's bros had just admitted to running a train on his mom and they even had the photographed proof of it?

That would explain why this young man never goes home at all during the entire film, even though serious end-of-the-world stakes do get raised later. I don't know about you, but even if I found out that my mom once let my closest friends give her the rotisserie chicken treatment -- if I knew that all of existence was going to end tonight, I'd still want to stop by and say Goodbye to her. I just wouldn't let her give me a kiss.

Anyway, The Doctor is taken to a hospital and he ends up dying in the emergency room, and this is where I tell you that up until this point, he's been played by Sylvester McCoy, who was the Seventh incarnation of the Doctor in the television series. But after he goes tits up, the baton is passed to Doctor Number Eight, who is played by Paul McGann, who I thought was not only fine as the Doctor, I actually preferred him to McCoy, if for no other reason than that I prefer my Doctors to be less Bilbo Baggins and more Aragorn. His introduction has a very Resurrection of Christ feel to it; he steps out of the morgue, still wrapped in a sheet, with flowing shoulder length hair -- but no Jesus beard -- and the sight of this causes Young and Fat pre-Mad TV Will Sasso to pass out.

The Master, meanwhile, ends up possessing a paramedic played by Eric Roberts, and when you consider the fact that Eric Roberts really likes to work and will take on any job handed to him, including advertisements for motorcycle clubs and walk-in bathtubs, it's not hard to imagine that maybe this paramedic is supposed to be the real Eric Roberts, making some extra dough between movies, commercials, television shows,  and music videos, by helping to save lives. This is made even more believable when Eric Roberts' wife Eliza Roberts shows up later in the film in the role of Eric Roberts' wife.

I'm not bagging on Eric Roberts, by the way. I'm just pointing out that it's fairly obvious that if there's a paycheck attached, he'll take it. I think he's awesome and based on his appearance in Paul Thomas Anderson's 2014 film adaptation of Inherent Vice, he's still got it. Now you can argue that his performance in this film might not fit what you define as the word "good", but I dug, and you can tell he's having a blast doing it -- and typical of Mr. Roberts, he's puts in 100-percent.

(UPDATE AFTER THE FACT DUE TO POOR RESEARCH: in 2019, Eric Roberts returned to the role of The Master for the Doctor Who audio story "Day of the Master", also featuring Paul McGann as The Doctor.)

So The Doctor sets off to find Eric Roberts, who is now decked out in a leather jacket and sunglasses ensemble that made me wish I lived in an alternate universe where Eric Roberts played The Terminator. With the help of stupid gullible Lee, Roberts opens The Eye of Harmony, which I guess is to the TARDIS what the Flux Capacitor was to Doc Brown's DeLorean. It also has the potential to mess with the fabric of time and space in the most severe manner possible.

Because this is all happening on New Year's Eve, The Doctor has until the stroke of midnight to stop Eric Roberts before it all goes to shit, as I alluded to earlier while talking about my friends banging my mom. By the way, it hurt to even write about that, but sometimes you have to commit to the nasty shit that spills out of your head in an attempt to make these ramblings remotely entertaining. This is what I do for you and my hungry ego.

Because this film was intended to revive and continue the Doctor Who series, it was also made as a sort-of re-pilot in an effort to garner new fans -- namely, the goddamn Yanks across the pond -- and so as a convenient way to explain the going-ons to newbies while not boring the seasoned fans, the tellers behind this story give the newly regenerated Doctor amnesia. As the plot thickens, The Doctor realizes what his own deal and reason for being is, in turn helping Joe and Jane Murica, who are watching this at home on the Fox network realize Doctor Who's whole deal and reason for being.

Oh, that Joe and Jane Murica, now that there is a couple made for each other. Love at first sight, it was -- they both grew up in a small town with true American values, working for a living unlike these lazy goddamn millennials who expect to have everything handed to them, and now here they are, in the current year of 1996 as they sit back and eat freshly popped Pop Secret movie theater flavored microwave popcorn, watching this weird movie on the tee-vee about some guy from either England or Australia -- it's the same thing -- and he's chasing after Julia Roberts' brother from Star 80, and hey, Jane, who's the lady he's with the whole time?

Well, Joe -- that there is Doctor Grace Holloway, the cardiologist who figured something was up with this gunshot victim because his x-rays showed that he had two hearts, and her suspicions were confirmed after said gunshot victim came back to life. So now you have Doctor Holloway helping out The Doctor, which I guess makes her his new Companion.

But here's my question, having only a passing knowledge of this television series: has the Doctor ever macked on one of his Companions before? Because that's what happens here, he and she have themselves a little kissy smooch-smooch action and if you'll excuse me, I'm about to shoot myself in the face for writing "kissy smooch-smooch action".

Ladies, if you're ever in the sad position of being my date and somewhere along the way I ask for a "little kissy smooch-smooch action", you have every right to cancel my creepy ass on some old Louis C.K. shit, as if I had blocked the exit and asked you do that for me -- not that I would ever have the balls to do something like that, cornering you and asking for a "little kissy smooch-smooch action". Besides, it's not like I'm in some position of power to help or hinder your career, I'm just me. So all a move like that would get me is a swift punch to the nose, and as I fall to the ground in a pathetic crumple, trying to stop the blood from gushing out my snout, you walk past me triumphantly to the strains of a Beyonce song, stepping out the door while calling me a "little-dick motherfucker". And I just don't need that kind of pain and humiliation in my life.

Not like Dr. Holloway is having any better luck on the dating circuit; early in the film, she gets paged during a night out with her boyfriend at the opera and has to leave to attend to her life-saving duties. This frustrates him and he ends up packing up his things from her place and walks out on her. This Val Kilmer's stand-in-looking motherfucker is a real lame-ass; I mean, dude, you could've married that chick and eventually you would've had some of the sweet, sweet doctor cash coming your way.

Of course, that's just what I think, and this is coming from a guy who would have no problem with my partner being the primary breadwinner in our relationship. The only time I'd have an issue with it would be knowing that every time we'd have a serious argument, she could always pull that card on me, and at any time she could be like "Then why don't you go get a fucking job and stop leeching off of me, how about rather than writing those stupid ramblings about horror movie marathons, you go fucking get a job so I don't have to support your lame ass. My father was right, I never should've dated outside of my race!"

Speaking of race, the two doctors race their way towards the film's mid-90s television-budgeted computerized special effects extravaganza -- aka the climax -- but then a motorcycle cop gets in the way, stopping them, and so the Doctor pulls out a bag of jelly beans from his coat and offers it to the policeman in order to distract him. It's a good thing the Doctor is as lily white as the cop; if the Doctor were a man of the darker persuasion and instead of Doctor Who it was Doctor Bho, I'd think there are about 41 ways -- all of them the same -- that it could've gone as soon as the Doctor reached for those jelly beans.

I'm going to go ahead and spoil a big part of this, so just skip ahead a paragraph or two, if it really makes a difference to you. But by the end of the film, a number of people have died during this adventure, including Lee and Doctor Holloway. After The Doctor defeats The Master, he then turns back time, and suddenly this golden mist comes out of the Eye of Harmony and goes into the dead bodies of Lee and Holloway and shazam! His friends are now alive again.

So wait a minute -- what was that golden mist and why did it come out of the Eye? Was that mist supposed to be their souls? Is the Eye a gateway into the afterlife? Are Heaven and Hell just a big part of the whole timey-wimey wibbly-wobbly mess? Should I really just relax?

To add further confusion, The Doctor then sends them to the first day of the year 2000. So does that mean he only brought Lee and Holloway back, while all the other poor schmucks like the various security guards, the non-possessed version of Eric Roberts, and even Eric Roberts' wife stay dead? That's not fair, dude. Either change all of it or none of it, don't just pick and choose what to fuck with -- determining who gets to live and who has to die, I mean, who the fuck are you, Doctor Who? OK, enough of that.

So here's the deal, folks. I am not what they call a "Whovian", but I have seen a few episodes and like I said earlier, I have a passing knowledge of the program, at least enough to be able to sound like I know what I'm talking about, should I find myself in a conversation with real Whovians  -- and I can always bullshit the rest. But what I'm about to say could possibly expose me as a fake to those people
 -- Doctor Who: The Movie doesn't feel that much different from the series.

I can't fault the film for not letting us get to know the characters beyond a basic surface level that is relevant to the plot at hand; had this Doctor Who reboot/continuation been picked up as a series, I'm sure they would've delved deeper into what makes the characters of Lee and Holloway tick -- to say nothing of The Doctor himself. As for everything else, I don't know what the general consensus among Whovians is when it comes to this movie, but I thought it was just fine. I mean, I've seen better episodes than this film, but they're all about the same when comes to their overall entertainment value.

While I'm at it, let me piss off another group of hardcore fans of a popular science-fiction fantasy property: the Star Wars movies are all more or less equally good to me. I swear to you, I'm not trying to be a contrarian -- if anything, it's an opinion I've kept to myself up until now, because I'm not looking for a fight. I paid good money to see every one of those movies in the cinema and I always felt I got my money's worth. Now please leave me alone, I don't want trouble, just get out.

Anyway, I'm guessing one reason Doctor Who: The Movie might not be seen in as bright a light as everything else in the Who-verse -- or whatever the hell you nerds call it --  is that the producers were not only intending to introduce Doctor Who to American audiences, but that it was also going to be an American-centric program (despite being shot in Canada) and the Brits could either love it or leave it and it wouldn't mean a goddamn thing because what's a little place like the United Kingdom compared to big bad America, right?

But, like soccer and the metric system, America rejected this television movie/backdoor pilot, because we had better things to watch on television like "Suddenly Susan". But it did do well on the correct side of the pond, to which I'm sure these same producers then did a 180 and used the U.K. numbers as a selling point in a desperate attempt to have the show picked up. It wasn't, and it took nearly a decade before it came back and stayed for good, currently featuring a female incarnation of The Doctor, which you know has to be pissing off somebody out there.

And that's all well and good, I'm glad the show has a huge following and all, but when it comes to watching a time-traveling do-gooder on television, give me "Quantum Leap" any old day. That's right, I said that shit: Quantum Leap, bitches! I lied about not wanting trouble -- NOW FIGHT ME COWARDS

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Comb your goddamn hair.

It was Saturday October 19th and I was at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles for the 2019 All-Night Horror Show and I was worried that all the good seats would be taken by the time I got in. But considering that tickets to this event sold out in mere seconds, I thought to myself "Hey, at least I have a ticket, good seat or not".

I define a good seat as one with quick access to the aisle, that way I wouldn't have to inconvenience my fellow moviegoers by doing the whole "excuse me pardon me sorry excuse me pardon me" thing all night every time I needed to go to the restroom to snort a line or two. Luckily, I found a good seat despite having a guy with bedhead sit in front of me, which meant that every once in a while he would sit up straight, his wayward strands sticking up through the bottom of the screen every which way but loose, resulting in me watching the films as if I were viewing them through a creepy cornfield -- which kinda added to the whole Halloween vibe, he said while trying to make a positive out of the overwhelmingly negative.

The night began with an intro by host/programmers Brian Quinn and Phil Blankenship; they gave us a quick rundown of what to expect: six horror films -- all secret surprise picks of which we would not know until they played -- and as is the custom with the All-Night Horror Show, the movies would not be old or new favorites that are often seen around this time of year, they would all be films that were rarely screened in this neck of the woods, that is, if they were ever screened at all. Brian credited Phil for doing ninety percent of the work for the last couple All Nighters; Phil then said to us that if we loved any of the films shown tonight, they were his choices, if we hated any of the films, it was all Brian.

The lights went down, and we were treated to a Mighty Mouse cartoon called "The Witch's Cat", about a witch flying around town on a broomstick, looking for mice to feed to her cat, who is also along for the ride. They find a group of Halloween-celebrating mice, and the chase begins. Now it's been nearly a month, so my memory is kinda hazy, but I think that at some point Mighty Mouse eventually came in to save the day.

Following that, we watched a trailer reel that included the films Meat Cleaver Massacre, Deadly Games, He Knows You're Alone, Silent Scream, and The Final Terror.

The first film turned out to be 1988's Edge of the Axe directed by Joseph Braunstein, which is a funny way to spell Jose Ramon Larraz. Senor Braunstein helms this movie about a mask-wearing axe murderer going around axe-murdering all the ladies in a small woodsy town somewhere up there in the mountains -- and good luck convincing the sheriff about these murders, by the way. He's more concerned about keeping the pristine reputation of his town, so if, let's say, a woman's rotting corpse is discovered hanging upside down from the attic of a bar, well, that there is clean-cut case of suicide. Say, wasn't that part-time hooker found dead near the train tracks with multiple wounds that look to have been done with an axe? Nope, that there is just another everyday case of someone walking onto the tracks and getting hit by a train.

But I can't blame the sheriff. I can only blame the people who go along and enable his bullshit, like the owner of said bar and the conductor of said train and the deputy who picks up evidence with his bare hands before taking it to get dusted for fingerprints. Most of all, I blame the people who voted for this man to become sheriff in the first place. They should've seen this coming, but no, they liked him because to quote one of these assholes in an anecdote I just made up, "He speaks just like I speak".

If you like giallo-ish movies that make little to no sense and feature laughable dialogue and performances, then give Edge of the Axe a try. It was a hit with the crowd, getting big reactions from scenes like the one where the hero's love interest tries out his fancy computer -- a computer that has the ability to speak in an echo-y voice that sounds like a bored narrator -- and she types in a question. The hero asks her what question did she ask the computer, and she replies "I asked it if you were gay."

A fair question to ask, because considering how shitty the women get treated in this film, all the men in this town must either be super gay or ultra hetero -- that's right, kids, here no penis resides in the middle.

The answer the computer gives to the love interest's gay question, by the way, is "Data incomplete", and that's why I miss the 1980s. Because nowadays you don't even have to ask your computer, it's already volunteering those answers to you whether you want to know or not.

After a trailer reel that included Dracula: Prince of Darkness, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, The Gorgon, Night of the Blood Monster, Frankenstein Created Woman, The Mummy's Shroud, Twins of Evil, and Hands of the Ripper, the second film turned out to be a rare Technicolor print of the 1967 Hammer production, Quatermass and the Pit (or as it was known in the United States, Five Million Years to Earth), which takes place in the land of free healthcare and bad teeth and evidently worse public transportation, because a bunch of these Brits have to deal with the temporary closure of one of their subways.

You know how it is, it's the same everywhere; every year these different city departments want to ensure they get the same (if not more) amount in their yearly budget, and if they haven't spent it all, they won't get it. So down they go, tearing up perfectly fine places while leaving the areas in need of fixing alone. Well, these clowns are in for a surprise, because they end up finding the skeletal remains of, get this, ape-men.

Yeah, right. I don't know about you, I didn't come from some ape. I came from the first two humans placed here on this planet by God -- and their names were Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve! Yeah, that's right, I heard about you. I asked the computer and it told me everything I needed to know.

You know who would probably agree with me? (About the ape-men, not your sexual preference.), Professor Quatermass, who is pretty sure these supposed ape-men are actually aliens from five million years ago, and he's probably right on account of the giant metallic vessel they end up digging up. Gradually, weird and crazy stuff happens, and at one point -- if this is a spoiler, then you have clearly discovered the time travel and you need to go back 52 years to when this movie was new -- Martians get mixed up in the plot, and when you see them during a sequence that involves recording someone's deeply hidden psychic thoughts, well, it's not quite the video log from the Event Horizon. Based on some audience members reactions, I wasn't alone in thinking, how, uh, quaint these Martians looked.

OK, fine, they look like grasshoppers. I don't mean the drink, either, I mean like the insect Johnny 5's stupid ass crushed before realizing he couldn't reassemble it. Hey, I mentioned the drink just a sentence ago and speaking of drinks, there's a part where one dude working at the pit starts losing his shit, and so this lady pulls a flask out of her bag to give this guy a shot of Calm The Hell Down. I want to party with this chick, who's more down with the spirits than Quatermass, who prefers not to drink before noon; he sounds like a man who's never had the pleasure of a 7am beer, if you ask me. Ah, there's nothing like a 7am beer -- except a 7am beer while taking a shower ohhhhh

I had never seen the BBC serial this all originated from, but I have seen the previous Quatermass films, The Quatermass Xperiment and Quatermass II: Electric Boogaloo, and I got a kick out of them.  They're all so properly British while everything around them gets increasingly nutty. I liked this film the most, and if you like ultra-serious, deliberately paced sci-fi films with touches of horror here and there, you might dig this too. Or check out the 1985 Tobe Hooper movie Lifeforce, which I see as an unofficial Quatermass film that's doped up on cocaine, mescaline, and Ecstasy.

Before the third film, we were treated to an episode of The Beatles television cartoon series from the 1960s, which included a story about a mad scientist who tries to force Paul to marry a vampire bat woman, and another story where the Fab Four are messing around in a wax museum. I didn't even know The Beatles had a television series, and I wish I could tell you that it was good, but aside from the use of actual Beatles songs on the soundtrack, it was really nothing to scream about, not unless you were a teenage girl in the 60s who would scream for anything Beatles related.

That was followed by a trailer reel that included The Beast with Five Fingers, Attack of the Giant Leeches, I Was A Teenage Werewolf, the original Little Shop of Horrors, The Thing from Another World, and White Zombie.

After the trailers, we watched a short subject titled "Intimate Interviews", about a lady by the name of Dorothy West -- not to be confused with the Harlem Renaissance writer of the same name -- who goes to interview Bela Lugosi in his back yard. They discuss his Hungarian background, his study of American slang, and other things, before Bela suddenly stares off at the middle distance and says "I'm coming", which creeps Miss West out and she runs away.

We all had a good laugh with that one, before settling in for 1943's The Mad Ghoul, about a college professor named Morris who in between teaching pre-med students and future Big Pharma types about chemicals and their chemistry, likes to do things like kill innocent monkeys with nerve gas. This asshole didn't even come up with the recipe for this gassy concoction himself, he took it from the ancient Mayans -- as opposed to the modern Mayans -- who would use the gas to kill their sacrificial victims, before taking the sacrificial victims' heart out as part of some dumb ritual that is supposed to appease their stupid gods.

So Morris ends up using the gas on his big strapping lad of a student, Ted, on account of the good doctor having a thing for Ted's girlfriend, Isabel. The way it works is, he gassed this dude, effectively killing him. But then he juices him up with fluid from the hearts of the recently deceased, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you make yourself a mindless zombie who will do your bidding. By day, Ted -- more like Dead, am I right, people? -- is pretty much in regular person mode, still trying to work things out with Isabel, and by night, he is the titular Mad Ghoul, going on a killing tour with Dr. Morris, who instructs him to murder various people in order to continue with his experiments.

When he's in Mad Ghoul mode, Ted reminded me of the mind controlled assassins from the first Naked Gun film; I know they were referencing The Manchurian Candidate with that movie, but I wonder if maybe, just maybe, there wasn't a little subconscious pull from this movie as well? Or did the filmmakers behind The Manchurian Candidate take from The Mad Ghoul? Or maybe they didn't see The Mad Ghoul, but maybe Richard Condon, the author of the novel "The Manchurian Candidate", maybe he saw this film and stole from it, in between stealing from the Robert Graves novel "I, Claudius"? Or maybe I should just move on?

So, you hear Isabel sing a couple times during the film, and it reminded me of how lame music used to be until they invented black people. Don't get me wrong, her singing is pretty, I'm just saying it's the kind of singing that goes well with mayonnaise and watercress, washed down with a weak cup of tea. Is this the time period certain people refer to as to when America was Great? If so, are these the same people who talk about "taco trucks on every corner" as if that were a bad thing? Because that would make sense, I mean, what I'm saying is, I can see those same people growing up in New Hampshire or wherever the fuck they all come from, these Dartmouth attending fucks -- the men in plaid suits and straw boater hats, the women in tennis dresses and saddle shoes -- and they're all strolling down the streets snacking on toasted cheese sandwiches while snapping their fingers because everything is Mighty Fine?  Is that what we are supposed to want to come back to?

I don't know, man. I don't even like watercress.

While no unforgettable classic, The Mad Ghoul is an entertaining "programmer" -- to use the parlance of the times -- and it's good times in a second-half-of-a-double feature sort-of-way, and if you're the kind of person who has Turner Classic Movies on all day in the background, you'll probably like this movie. I am that kind of person, and so I did.

During the intro to the next film, Phil told us that with only three movies left, we would be watching the three best Ghoulies films, he then told us, all kidding aside, that the film we were about to watch would also be first ever repertory screening, and that it took some legal wrangling in order to pull it off. We watched a trailer reel featuring Scream 2, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Disturbing Behavior, Urban Legends: Final Cut, and Don't Say a Word, followed by a U.K. print of the fourth feature of the night: The 2000 film Cherry Falls, and this is where I give out a long sigh because this stars the late Brittany Murphy, who honestly should still be here with us being goofy and adorable and talented as hell and all that, but she isn't, what are you gonna do? Well, for starters you can remember her by watching some of the better movies she was in, such as this one. Murphy plays Jody, your typical small town teenager living your typical teenager small town life, except things are getting decidedly non-typical when someone starts murdering her fellow typical teens for the sin of not sinning. What I mean is that this wacko is killing virgins.

It's such an inspired premise; usually these slashers are about the punishment of deviants who lay down with the demons of drugs, alcohol, and premarital sex, but in this film, it's the chaste who are getting chased and once the town sheriff played by Michael Biehn discovers this, he's faced with quite the conundrum. I mean, how does one tell the entire town that a serial killer is targeting virgins, and if so, will you even get taken seriously, and if one is taken seriously, what then? Will this mean all the non-experienced are gonna running out the door in some kind of wanna-bang frenzy? You'll have to watch the movie to find out.

Personally, I think you'd have to tell everybody this, not just to save lives but because as someone who owns stock in both Durex and Trojan, I would appreciate all the extra money I would make off of all these kids. In fact, I think if I had the wherewithal to do this, I'd fund some tactical assassinations in small towns all over this great country of ours. You'd find the virgins through Reddit and 4Chan and trick them into thinking they're gonna get some, then you'd give 'em all Colombian neckties, and spraypaint the word VIRGIN on their chests so there'd be no mistake. No one would miss those kids except their fellow miscreants and maybe their parents. And how the money would flow.

As the trailers that preceded this alluded to us, Cherry Falls is very much of-and-from the glut of teen slashers that came out post-Scream in the late 90s to early 2000s, but it's also one of the better post-Scream-ers. It's closer to that Wes Craven joint in tone, in that there's just as many laughs as there are scares. But while it's very much a smart-ass satire at times, there are also very strong and sincere dramatic moments that might catch you off guard; for me, it was specifically an exceptionally acted scene between Murphy and Candy Clark taking place in a library that reminded me: Oh yeah, this is from the director of Romper Stomper.

But by the time of the -- ahem -- climax, the film pulls out all the stops and based on the reactions from the audience, they were digging it as much as I was digging it. It certainly seemed to wake them up from what I could sense was a bit of slumber time with the last couple deliberately paced films. I realized how lucky we were to get to see Cherry Falls in a movie theater, considering that it didn't even get a theatrical release in the United States, where instead it premiered in an edited-for-television version on the basic cable USA network; reportedly, it was a toxic combination of a change of distributors plus the United States Senate shining an unwanted post-Columbine spotlight on teen violence in movies that sinked it. That's too bad, because I think among all the Scream wannabes out there making tidy profits, Cherry Falls coulda been a contender.

We were then told that there were free doughnuts outside the theater, and I decided not to partake as a way to demonstrate to myself that I did indeed have willpower and that I was indeed a man of strength. That, and I also didn't want to risk the sugar crash that would make it tougher to get through the night. It was a noble experiment that resulted in failure, when after holding out for the entire break, I went ahead and grabbed a delicious old fashioned before the next trailer reel began.

Before the lights dimmed, we were told by Brian and Phil that the last two films would play back to back, with no intermission between them, as there had been between the previous films. They then thanked the projection staff for keeping things running smoothly, as well as the audience for keeping up with all the craziness of the evening. Then we watched old previews for the films Mark of the Witch, The Witch's Curse, Simon King of the Witches, and The Exorcist, so it wasn't too hard to guess that the next movie was going to involve witches and devil shit.

Sure enough, the fifth film of the marathon, the 1975 Spanish production Demon Witch Child, also known as The Possessed or La Endemoniada, involved both subjects. Man, this movie does not mess around; it lets you know how hard it intends to play right from the very beginning, as we watch an old lady walk into a church and proceed to knock things over as if she were a common house cat, then she steals a chalice and walks over to a statue of the Archangel Michael slaying the Devil, where she leaves a candle next to the dark lord, as if he needed any more fire in his life.

See, this old lady is an evil Satan-worshipping witch who is getting all set up for a good ol' human sacrifice for her master, and she makes no bones about her intentions. The witch gets taken in by the police, they give her the third degree because said human sacrifice is a local baby she kidnapped! They even bring in the baby's mother to beg and plead for her son's return, and the witch calls her a bitch, straight out telling her that it ain't gonna happen, and that baby's as dead as my faith in humanity. And while the witch's faith in her master is strong, it's evidently not stronger than sodium pentathol, and upon finding out that the cops are gonna dope her up with truth serum in order to get the boy's location out of her, she exits stage right  -- right out the window and falls to her bloody death.

This news does not go well with the deceased's fellow witches at the coven; after the sacrificing the baby -- I told you this movie doesn't mess around -- they end up giving the police chief's daughter Susan a necklace that allows the spirit of the dead witch to possess her, leading Susan to raise proverbial havoc. First she starts off nice and slow by talking back to her family, then she moves on to playing some of The Exorcist's greatest hits like levitating and swearing up a storm -- she's particularly fond of using pejorative terms for people your computer would identify as gay -- then she moves up to expert level tricks like changing her appearance so instead of looking like the Spanish version of Young Briony Tallis from Atonement, she looks more like the ugly balding witch who resides within, before chopping a dude's penis off and sending it to his lady in a container.

There are a lot of surprisingly harsh moments in this film, and they all sound shocking when described, but the movie goes about them in such a goofy low-rent manner, I mostly laughed through all of it. On top of that, the English dubbing is just as goofy and low rent, and for all I know, watching it in the original language could improve the overall film. But really, I don't think it could improve it by that much. But the important thing is that it's never boring, and that's all you can ask for when watching anything, really. By this point in the marathon, there were quite a few snorers in the audience, so maybe it wasn't as entertaining for them as it was for me.

By the way: if you're predisposed to be snoring, how about you just leave? That's assuming you're by yourself at this marathon -- if you have a friend with you, and he or she is awake, then I'm even angrier that they didn't wake your loud ass up. I usually go to these things with a buddy who does snore, and I am so on top of that shit it's not even funny. I'll start with a nudge, then a shove, then I'll punch you in the arm if that's what it takes, because you are not going to intrude upon the audience's enjoyment -- or mine, for that matter. The rest of you solo snorers and snore-enablers, on the other hand, I'll punch in the fucking face if I had the money and the clout to get away with it.

That's why I have to give it up to the gentleman who sat a couple seats down from me; he started with that snoring during this film and despite being a stranger, I got up and nudged, then shoved him awake. He was up for a while, then he started nodding off -- but he caught himself. So he then got up and left for the rest of the film for what I can only assume was some fresh air, coffee, or a bump, because he came back before the next film and was back to being bright eyed & bushy tailed. At least until he nodded off again and then just took off for good. As he should.

After a sci-fi remake trailer reel that included John Carpenter's The Thing, David Cronenberg's The Fly, Jim Wynorski's Not of This Earth, and Chuck Russell's The Blob, the sixth and final film of the night turned out to be 1993's Body Snatchers, the third adaptation of Jack Finney's novel about humans being replaced with alien duplicates hatched from pods. This version of the story takes place in an Army base and focuses on teenage girl Marti (played by young adult Gabrielle Anwar), who along with her dad, her stepmom, and her half-brother, are new to the whole place.

While Dad's out literally testing the waters on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency, Marti's doing the out-of-place youngster thing: not being cool with her stepmom (played by Meg Tilly), making friends with fellow teenage girl Jen and making googly eyes at dreamy helicopter pilot Tim, the entire time trying not to get too weirded out by the occasional odd sight and strange behavior among the soldiers. It's already a creepy enough place knowing that Forest Whitaker is stumbling around the place.

The audience applauded quite a bit during the opening credits, because plenty of genre favorites were involved in the making of the film: among the screenwriters you have B-movie legends Larry Cohen, Stuart Gordon and Dennis Paoli, and frequent Abel Ferrara collaborator Nicolas St. John, which makes sense because Abel Ferrara directed this film. What doesn't make sense is that Abel Ferrara directed this film.

If you're not familiar with Mr. Ferrara, he is definitely someone I feel comfortable calling an auteur, because his films are very much in a class of their own and they always leave you wanting to take a shower after watching them. He's probably best known for the 1992 film Bad Lieutenant and remains a legend in the independent filmmaking scene and so it's very interesting that Warner Brothers hired the guy to make this mainstream horror movie for them. Based on accounts by Mr. Ferrara, it went about as well as expected, which is to say, not well at all. And in the end, it got thrown away by the studio and remains, in my opinion anyway, criminally underseen.

Of its many qualities, I feel the look of the film is one of them. The cinematographer was Bojan Bazelli, who had shot Ferrara's previous films and this appears to have been their final collaboration, which is too bad because they made beautiful visual music together. It's all creepy shadows mixed with shafts of lights coming in through window blinds or cracks in doors, and the widescreen compositions have this way of making me feel claustrophobic, where even wide open spaces leave one feeling like there's nowhere to escape.

Which is the whole point, right? It's like one pod person says to some humans attempting to escape: "Go where?" Body Snatchers has such an overwhelming sense of doom to it, where perhaps the aliens have a point and they're not bullshitting when they tell you how screwed you are, because there's nowhere to go because it's happening everywhere, so why not just give up and let it happen, baby.

And the messed up part is, maybe they're right? I mean, look at us. Really, look at us. We fight over everything. We fight over politics, we fight over parking spaces, we're shooting each other at schools and stabbing each other for chicken sandwiches. Why not let the aliens take us over so we'll all finally be one happy family! Well, minus the "happy" part, because these pod people don't do emotions. But hey, I'm too emotional anyway, so let's pod me up so I can be rid of these pesky feelings!

The film is deliberately paced (in other words, slow) and I can see that being tough on a sleepy audience around six in the morning. But that's also kind of the fun part, trying not to fall asleep during a film where characters are warning others not to sleep, because that's when the pod people take you over. It's pretty much broken into two acts, with the first act being all creepy setup, then at the midpoint there's a real banger of a scene featuring Meg Tilly's character, and as that concluded, some of the audience couldn't help but applaud because the scene is that good and Tilly knocks it right out the park! From that point on, the second act is quite the ride and it's fun to watch what Ferrara is able to pull off with big studio money and big studio drugs.

I had seen this film once before on Cinemax back in '94 or '95, and I enjoyed it, but it was a lousy pan-and-scan transfer that really hurt the film, because a lot of the inherent creepiness of this movie comes from the way the shots are composed. Watching it in its full aspect ratio in a dark theatre during the transitional period between night and day, well, it really amped up the chills for me and it was like watching it for the first time, only better.

After the film, it was straight to a Disney cartoon short, "Trick or Treat", starring Donald Duck as a miserable asshole who pranks his trick-or-treating nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie, rather than give them candy. I get it -- it's a choice, right? It's right there in the phrase, "trick or treat". But who actually goes with the "trick" option? Miserable assholes, that's who. Thankfully, there's a witch who witnesses all of this and she decides to help the three little ducks out in doling out some much needed payback to that son-of-a-bitch.

Because nothing makes one feel more patriotic about the United States than watching a piece of shit named Donald get a well-deserved punishment, the marathon then concluded with a film of "The Star Spangled Banner" that included on-screen lyrics.

Then the lights came up, and another All-Night Horror Show had come to an end. Before stepping outside to the bright morning light, we were each given a special drink coaster for making it through the night. I grabbed yet another doughnut for the ride home, a glazed. It was now about seven on a Sunday morning, which meant that there was only one thing left for a God-fearing man such as myself to do on a Sunday morning. 

It's the only thing a God-fearing man could do on a Sunday morning, and the only thing a God-fearing man should do on a Sunday morning: I went home and slept.