Smokes and Red Bull and Cherry Coke and Cronuts

Posted in Creepers, Deep Red, douchebag, movie marathon, Phenomena, Profondo Rosso, ramblings of a loser, Suspiria, Tenebrae, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, The Cat O' Nine Tails, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2017 by efcontentment

It was a Friday night, not my preferred night for a movie all-nighter because, you know, work and all that that entails: a long night preceded by a long day, making it harder to get through both. But hey, that’s when they scheduled it and if I really had a problem with it I wouldn’t have bought the ticket — which is why I didn’t buy a ticket. But then I was given one by a friendly party who had to cancel at the next-to-last minute. Hooray for girlfriends who cancel on friends!

Ticket to what, you ask? The Dario Argento All Nighter at the New Beverly Cinema: six of the Italian horror maestro’s films, the titles remaining secret to the audience until they are projected onto the screen.

It was a packed house, and because we got there later than my preferred arrival time, I ended up sitting between two individuals — in front and behind me — who were Down With The Sickness based on their all-night non-stop wet phlegm-hacking coughs (one would later use his empty cup to dispense of his inner slime wads). It made for an even more tense night than expected because I didn’t have Emergen-C or a face mask with me. I was unarmed and afraid, having already gone through The Sickness a couple weeks earlier. And now I was stuck between these two jokers. Would I be Down again?

I don’t know what the refund policy is with the New Bev and/or Brown Paper Tickets (who sold the online-only tickets to this event), but assuming it’s Too Late Jack, I would still think that when it comes to being sick on Show Day, perhaps it’s better to go Needs Of The Many over Needs Of The Few — in this case, the few who felt it was more important to share The HIV with the rest of the audience, rather than just stay home. Throughout the night, my mind would suddenly make unwelcome detours into the scene from Outbreak where one of the infected coughs up Death Germs in a movie theater.

There were foreign posters on the wall and lobby cards in the, uh, lobby for Argento’s films throughout the night and the selection would circulate; where a poster for The Bird with the Crystal Plumage was placed early in the evening, there would be lobby cards for Tenebrae later. These were supplied by a gentleman I only heard referred to as “Rich” during the introduction. There was also a laserdisc jacket for the Dario Argento’s World of Horror documentary placed near the door to the ticket booth, but I don’t know who that belonged to.

Speaking of which, around 7:30pm, Phil Blankenship came up front with a lady whose name I don’t know, but she was wearing a cap and had been working the concession stand earlier. Because I was sitting between Dolby Stereo Cough-Cough, the best I could make out was that the films and trailers were selected by both Phil and New Bev owner Quentin Tarantino, and the lady then said something about Phil being “humble” in what I assume was him downplaying his contribution to the evening.

Phil then told us that anything we liked were his choices, to which we laughed and perhaps some of us (one of us) wondered how much of that was a joke and how much of that was how he really felt about Mr. T’s choices; later he mentioned the $4 coffee cups being sold that were good for all-night refills, adding that “you’re going to want to stay caffeinated for some of these”. He then asked us not to be inconsiderate with the chatting and phone-using; he felt that those actions were “lame” and not something the “cool” audience would/should do.

The lady then told us that the prints were mostly 35mm but at least one was a 16mm print, then quoted/paraphrased Quentin by saying that some of these prints had been “enjoyed immensely a lot of times by a lot of audiences” which I believe was her way of saying that these weren’t exactly going to be sparkling DCPs — which is fine by me, that’s part of the fun of watching old prints.

The night’s entertainment began with trailers for two Westerns co-written by Argento; The Five Man Army (starring Peter Graves) and Once Upon a Time in the West (not starring Peter Graves). Then the first movie of the evening: 1970’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (or as it was called in this print, The Phantom of Terror).

Uncle Pete from The Pope of Greenwich Village plays an American in Rome who witnesses a woman inside an art gallery getting a little of the ol’ in-out knife-style, and tries to save her by getting stuck between two glass doors because that’s gonna help, I’m sure. He finds an old man staring at the two of them impassively, which is either Argento’s way of heightening the horror by adding helplessness via neutral observation, or it’s just the first of many examples throughout the night that Mr. Argento isn’t really that interested in acting as much as he is interested in camera and editing.

But c’mon, honey, I say to myself — nobody watches a Dario Argento flick for the great acting. They go to get creeped out and see black-gloved mystery peeps stalking and killing women, as in the case of this film. And also to see everyone else give non-reactions to otherwise crazy stuff. I mean, maybe in the Argento-verse, your reaction to having a hatchet miss you by thismuch in the middle of morning fog would be to just shrug it off and casually mention it to your hot girlfriend later on before going in on some Netflix And Chill Minus The Netflix, but not in my ‘verse; for one, I don’t even have a girlfriend, let alone a hot one — and yet I’ve had people try to chop my head off many times.

So yeah, there’s a serial killer taking pictures of potential victims, followed by fulfilling their potential with a little stabby slash slash. Uncle Pete, like most early Argento film protagonists, becomes obsessed with solving this case despite there being qualified individuals known as Detectives who do this sort of thing for a living. Along the way, Uncle Pete runs into fruity antique dealers and stuttering pimps, the latter of which made me wonder if R. Kelly had seen this film before; his last run of “Trapped in the Closet” featured a stuttering pimp named Lucius played by Mr. Kelly in an attempt to become like the Eddie Murphy of R&B singers who like to pee on underage girls.

This seems to be considered one of Argento’s best, which is interesting because this is also one of his tamest; it’s not a particularly gory film, at least not this print, but I don’t remember this movie ever having much in the blood department to begin with. And while the movie has plenty of well-composed shots (by Vittorio Storaro), save for one trick, Dario hadn’t started dosing his cameras yet. But it is very Argento in that it’s a good movie.

Before the second film, we saw an old Pepsi Challenge ad, followed by trailers for Last Stop on the Night Train (aka Night Train Murders and like 20 other titles) and Strange Shadows in an Empty Room (aka Blazing Magnum and like 30 other titles), then it was 1971’s The Cat O’ Nine Tails, starring Karl Malden and James Franciscus.

The reddish print looked like it might’ve been the 16mm one mentioned earlier, and when Ennio Morricone’s score played, it sounded like the Maestro was trying something new by having his music performed by the Royal Underwater Orchestra. But then the movie stopped playing and everything went dark, and suddenly we were all sitting in a black void filled with the sounds of OHHHH! and AHHHH! and WHAAAA?

Then a voice entered the void, telling us that they were going to fix the problem with the sound. A minute later, the film came back on and everything now sounded non-gargley. The film appeared to have a narrower aspect ratio than 2.35:1, like on some Hateful Eight shit, or maybe it was just my eyes. Hell, at least I can see, unlike Malden’s character who lost his sight years ago. Now he has to do the sunglasses and cane combo, his only companion a little girl because I guess it’s cheaper than a seeing eye dog.

I guess Argento wasn’t having the American-in-Italy thing with this one; instead, our Yank protagonists are named Carlo Giordani and Franco Arno, giving us something not unlike an Arnold Schwarzenegger character, who despite his heavy Austrian accent was playing guys named John Kimble and Ben Richards. Anyway, Franco overhears some dude talking in his car about blackmail, and a couple days later his seeing eye girl reads to him from the newspaper that the same dude did a header onto a oncoming train — which is pretty awesome, I have to admit; there’s a slow-mo close-up as the front of the train straight-on BOOOOOOSHs this poor man’s head, followed by a wide shot of his dummy body going all spinny spin down the platform while his Italian loafers go flying off his feet. In real life, that would horrify me, but in a movie that shit is comedy, bro.

Franco goes to the reporter covering this, Carlo, and soon they are both doing the detective thing and it involves shady shadiness at some medical institute. In between them looking at photos and breaking into crypts, you get a couple strangulations and a slashing. Again, like the previous film, this one doesn’t really get too bloody, but there’s quite a bit of drool during one killing, if that’s what you’re looking for to cover the bodily fluid angle.

Another thing I noticed appears to be Dario’s fascination with alternative lifestyles, namely trans and gays or both. In Crystal Plumage, there’s a scene where a police lineup is made up of “perverts” but among them is a transvestite named Ursula Andress. The lead detective then yells out something like “I told you, Ursula belongs with the transvestites, not the perverts” which I’d like to think was kind of a progressive judgment call from Argento, kinda like he’s saying “Just because this dude identifies as a woman doesn’t mean she’s a pervert” but who knows, he could be all Italian macho about them, like “Eyyyy it’s-a just-a another category of-a sick-a people!”

And in this film, one of the characters turns out to be gay, and considering this was made in 1971, his representation could’ve been a lot worse. Even the gay bar he hangs out in isn’t some kind of Cruising-style fist-tacular, it’s just a bunch of dudes hanging out listening to sad trumpet music with slightly happier piano accompaniment. The worst you get is some dude with a few too many buttons left unbuttoned on his shirt, exposing his hairy chest. Nothing against that, I mean, I’d wear my shirts like that too were it not for the obvious farmer’s tan I’d expose, making me look like a White dude who got a head transplant from some Mexican that nobody will ever miss BECAUSE HERE IN TRUMP COUNTRY WE GRAB FRESH BEANERS BY THE PUSSY, FAGGOT

This one is less of a thriller and more of a straight-up mystery and it’s well made and all, but I gotta be honest with you, lady and gentleman, this was my first time watching Cat O’ Nine Tails and it got a little tiring for me. It’s nearly two hours long and for extended stretches — like 90 percent of the film — I forgot I was watching a Dario Argento film. You could’ve replaced his director credit with Massimo Dallamano or maybe even Alberto De Martino and you could’ve convinced me it was one of their movies. It’s my understanding that this is Argento’s least favorite film of his, and I’m not going to argue that with him — but I haven’t seen Dracula 3D either, so maybe I would?

It has its moments (especially in the last half hour or so — also there’s an insert of a pocket watch that looks damn near like the insert of the pocket watch in Pulp Fiction, just wanted to point that out), but occasionally I was tempted to rest my eyes and let my ears pick up the slack (I did naaaaht, though). Was it the movie’s fault? Or maybe it was the effects of a long day getting to me at that point? I don’t know but what I do know is that the third film of the night felt like getting a bump of some of Bolivian’s finest following the warm glass of milk that was this film.

And what was, in fact, the third film, the one that played after the trailers for Twisted Nerve and Blow-Up? Why, it was the 1975 joint Deep Red (better Italian title: Profondo Rosso), which upon the title being revealed had the audience applauding up a storm, the loudest yet. Maybe they were just happy that we didn’t get another early work like Four Flies on Grey Velvet or worse, his non-horror non-giallo joint, The Five Days of Milan — because let’s be real, I can totally see Quentin doing something like that, regardless of what time it was or how tired we were.

The film stars David Hemmings as a pianist who witnesses his psychic neighbor getting terminated with extreme psychic-hating prejudice by a hatchet-loving killer, so obviously he becomes obsessed with figuring out Who and Why because that’s how Argento protagonists do in these joints. He’s joined by a reporter played by Daria Nicolodi, and the only thing more awesome than her character is the interactions between her character and Hemmings’sesesss.

There’s a scene that had quite a few women in the audience cheering, as well as men who would love the touch of a female (like me), where Nicolodi responds to Hemmings’ skepticism over women’s strength with an arm wrestling challenge. I loved that scene, and I remember there being a few more like that in the full uncut version that runs over two hours, but what we watched that night was the “export version” which is about 20 minutes shorter.

As much as I like those extra scenes between them in the longer version and as much as I’d love to imagine that in an alternate universe there exists a series of films with their characters solving mysteries, I actually prefer this shorter version and I’m glad that’s the one we watched that night. It moves like a freight train carrying boxcars of plot, whereas the longer cut has more of a hangout vibe to it — and we certainly had enough hanging out with the previous two films.

So I guess around this time began the real life couple-ship of Nicolodi and Argento, because from here on, she would show up in his films or co-write them, but whatever the case I’m thinking that it can’t be a coincidence that once Daria came on the scene, Dario upped his freak-out game in his movies. It shows, man, it shows, not just in the storytelling getting more and more out there but his filmmaking was also going up some notches. Deep Red is when he really started going “You know what? I’m not dollying and crane-ing this camera enough, I mean, they have wheels and levers and shit for these things, I might as well start using them!” It could also be a budget thing, but I also think something about this lady brought something out of this man.

He also dropped Ennio Morricone for Goblin or The Goblins or whatever the fuck name they go by, and the music scores in this film and his following ones became less traditional and more Fucking Awesome. The coughing gentleman in front of me and his uninfected friend started rocking out to some of the tunes at this point, bobbing their heads to the point that I almost expected home-cough to raise his hands and go “YASSS DIS MY JAAAM!”

By the way, I’m not dissing Morricone here. Don’t get it twisted, friend, he’s my favorite composer and he did good work in the previous films. But Goblin and Argento go together like transgenders and fucked-up characters in Dario Argento flicks.

Yeah, he continues the trans tradition here, with a minor character popping up wearing makeup and a girly bathrobe and an Adams Apple, and had the Internet existed back then they would probably be breaking Dario’s balls about this stuff the way we break Tarantino’s balls about his thing for bare feet — or we’d give Argento shit for his thing for drooling victims because I think there are two cases of that in this movie. Maybe it was his way of making stuff more violent without boring us on the red stuff. Maybe this was Argento’s drool period or something.

The kill game gets upped here as well, because the blood really starts to flow and now the killer is doling out death with a hatchet, hot water, and corners of tables and shelves. There are also other creative kills involving otherwise innocent everyday things that are only an unfortunate schmuck away from getting caught up in it and dying the hard way. There’s also a freaky doll that pops up at one point, and I felt bad for the few people sitting near the front who got temporary vision impairment when a guy decided to pick that moment to return to his seat, meaning they were treated to a far more frightening sight — his big ass in their faces.

This was the halfway point, and those who stuck around (nearly everybody) after this third film got a sweet treat courtesy of some sweet treats from a bakery or donut shop or something, I can’t remember the place. Doughnuts, ham & cheese croissants, and cronuts were brought to the stage and anybody who wanted one got one. In the end, there were still croissants available for anyone who wanted them. I usually stay away from them during all-nighters to keep from sugar-crashing, but I was in What The Hell mode and grabbed a cronut.

Trailers for the Argento-edited European print of Dawn of the Dead (known to these universal health care-having motherfuckers as Zombie: Dawn of the Dead) and the U.S. edit of The Beyond (titled 7 Doors of Death) came up next. The trailer for the latter gives away nearly every character’s fate and included praise blurbs from Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel that were made humorous by the announcer replacing some of the on-screen quotes with different words and mispronouncing the names. After that we had the fourth film, Suspiria — which drew even louder applause than the previous film.

At this point, Argento was well into dipping his quills into the crazy ink, and I bet you it was co-writer Nicolodi who was hooking him up with said ink. There’s a lot of Just Because in this movie, starting with the narration that begins over the opening credits pretty much telling you everything about the main character’s trip to Germany except what they served on the flight, and then it just trails off, fading away and never returning for the rest of them film just because. I mean most of this film is going to leave you begging for that narrator to return to help you understand Why anything happens, but Dario Argento has no time for your needs — unless your need is to get fully owned by Pure Goddamn Cinema.

So you have the lovely Jessica Harper — all wide-eyed innocence — headed for a ballet school, and the poor girl already has to deal with assholes as early as the arrival gate at the airport. Taxi cabs are just whizzing past her in the hard rain, and when she finally gets a driver he pulls that shit Euros do to filthy Muricans by pretending they have a comprehension problem with your simplest request. But my girl Harper, she’s smart — she has the name of the school written down on a piece of paper which she plasters onto the glass divider all like HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM APPLES? and now he has no choice but to take her there.

See, this is why Uber is fucking your shit up, cabbies.

I have to give credit to Harper’s character for immediately feeling uneasy upon unpacking once she’s at the school. Everybody is acting strange or doing that really asshole move of what I call “passive-aggressive friendly antagonism”, but I think she kinda shrugs it off at first because she figures “Hey, this is Germany” and that’s how the Deutschlanders get down. At least she doesn’t try to tell a joke, like I did there once — ONCE — because there leads the path to heartbreak and embarrassment. Humor? No. Beer? Hell yes.

But things are even weirder than she should accept, because she hasn’t even spent one full day there and she’s already getting the vapors during practice and passing out. That was either because some lady flashed her a glowing triangle blade thingy five minutes earlier (that scene looks beautiful, by the way) and that put her whole system on tilt, or because she’s wearing borrowed ballet shoes and they’re probably two sizes too small for her. Cuts off the blood circulation, I think. Or maybe she’s like me and finds the idea of wearing someone else’s worn dancing shoes kinda gross. Fuck that shit, you give me that as my only choice and I’m hittin’ the floor sans footwear like my man John McClane.

Immediately, the town doctor is telling her she has to eat bland and down red wine every meal because red wine is good for the blood. Red wine is good for everything, bro. I feel I’m letting myself down by not having a glass or two everyday.

I’m not going to go too much into plot because there isn’t that much plot, to be real with you. Also, what there is is best discovered on your own. Then again, the soundtrack is literally telling you with voices going WITCH WITCH WITCH, so there’s your road map, honey. I’ll just bring up a couple things that stood out that aren’t intense violent kill scenes (honestly, I think Argento literally and figuratively shot his wad with the murders during the first 15 minutes).

Some poor servant at the school has some big white chompers on him; turns out they’re fakes he got after gingivitis had their way with his former gum partners. He’s so proud of them and I would be too, if I were Gary Busey. You know what? That wasn’t nice, and I shouldn’t judge. Considering that my own sugar-to-brushing ratio is wrongly one-sided, and the upcoming dental work I’m having done, I’m sure I will eventually eat those words with teeth bigger than either of those guys.

Also, Udo Kier shows up looking young (which he was) and sounding American (which he’s not) and that was cool to see.

What was kind of not cool was that the print of Suspiria we watched was the edited R-rated cut. It didn’t really hurt the film though, it’s missing a couple shots here and there and that kind of threw me off to not see what I had seen before. And sometimes the sound/music would suddenly skip as a result of the trims, which kinda added to the off-feeling of this nightmarish film. So that’s kind of the unintentional bonus of such edits — or I just know how to make some bomb-ass lemonade out of these lemons.

And besides — the print was beautiful! I’m sure you already know the story of how this was one of the last films printed (not shot) using the three-strip Technicolor process, really making the colors pop on this movie — which combined with the already color-saturated lighting and production design makes for the tastiest kind of candy overkill. But if you didn’t know, I just told you. It also sounded as intense as it looked, with the volume turned all the way up to wake up even the sleepiest in the audience — or at least drown out the sounds of the snoring (which if there was, I didn’t hear at all. At least not where I was, sitting in the eye of the germ storm.)

Following the break, they showed us trailers for Dressed to Kill and Inferno (the Argento film, not the Forrest Gump & Jyn Erso buddy film). I had only seen Inferno once, and I had forgotten there was a scene involving someone getting attacked by cats and it made the audience laugh. It reminded me of a similar scene in an SCTV sketch that involved John Candy getting cat-tacked, and I wonder if the SCTV guys saw this movie or if it was just a coincidence (given the film and SCTV were around at the same time).

The fifth film immediately had the audience do the boisterous applause cheer thing because the first thing we saw was the title printed on a book: Tenebrae (or Tenebre, depending on which of the Berenstein/Berenstain alternate universes you live in). This was the second time I watched Tenebrae on the big screen; the first time was right here at the New Beverly Cinema during the third All Night Horror Show, back in 2010. I’m going to take the easy way out and kill myself post an excerpt from that blog post (which you can read in its entirety here, if you want):


In a rare departure for Argento, this film features scenes of people dying harsh deaths at the hands of a killer wearing black leather gloves; someone is killing people in Italy and sending letters to mystery writer Peter Neal (who’s there promoting his new book), informing him that he will be the last to go, because they’re all filthy slimy perverts and he’s the corruptor or some shit like that. But never mind that, let’s talk about the best character in the entire movie — let’s talk about that awesome fuckin’ Doberman.


There’s a scene where this cute jailbait chick (I can say that because I’m sure the actress was above legal age — I hope, otherwise Chris Hansen’s gonna walk in and ask me to take a seat over there) is walking home and she gets a little too close to a fence. RAWR RAWR RAWR goes the guard dog Doberman, and rather than keep walking, Cute Jailbait Girl picks up a stick and starts banging it against the fence. What the fuck, Lolita? That dog is just telling you to stay away, fool (’cause love rules, at the do-oo-og shack) and you gotta get all indignant on homedog? He’s just doing the job he was hired to do; he’s a blue collar dog trying to put Alpo on his litter’s table. Oh, you sure showed him.


Well, this dog, he’s not having it, he jumps the fence and runs after her — what’s up now, bitch? At one point, she climbs over a tall fence and you figure that’s the end of the line for the Doberman. Nah man, this dog, he walks up to the fence, looks it over, does the calculations in his dog brain, backs up a couple yards, runs and fuckin’ parkours that goddamn fence. This dog rules. Even when she hides inside the killer’s Underground Room of Murder Planning, that dog still manages to find a way to get to a window(!) to show her that he hasn’t given up. The Doberman can’t be bargained with, it can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, remorse, or fear and it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are bitten numerous times. That’s what he does, that’s all he does!


The actor who plays Peter Neal had this slightly George Takei-esque way of pronunciation that I’m going to probably mimic for the next few days in everyday life. What else, oh yeah, pretty much all the women in this film are attractive in a They Probably Don’t Shave kinda way, even this flashback sequence chick who’s pretty hot for having a dick and balls in real life. The title more or less translates as Darkness, so naturally Argento had his cinematographer blast everything with bright light, thinking he was trying out some daring shit but ultimately giving the proceedings a look reminiscent of low-budget Mexican genre films.


The camerawork is still aces, though, especially that There’s-No-Reason-To-Do-It-This-Way-Except-That-It’s-So-Fucking-Cool shot where the camera starts at one end of a house, goes over the roof, then ends up on the other side; Johnny La Rue would’ve killed for that kind of crane shot. This is one of my favorite Argento flicks, the print looked great (it came from Australia) and I’m pretty sure nothing was missing since this wasn’t the U.S. “Unsane” edit of the movie.

I’m going to add a couple new things here. I’m still going on with my Argento-fascinated-by-alternative-lifestyles deal, so here we go; at one point in the film, an interviewer brings up how Neal’s latest book displays a point-of-view on how “deviant behavior” affects our lives, pointing out that one of the “deviants” is gay, which Neal immediately responds with something to the effect of “the character is gay, but he’s portrayed as being perfectly happy” and that it doesn’t make him a deviant.

It’s like Argento is saying that sometimes how we perceive art doesn’t mean that’s how the artist intended it to be perceived. We bring our own beliefs and baggage to it, and yet we’ll condemn the artist for something he or she never thought. So, one can see an Argento film and the women being killed in them as being the product of a misogynistic mind, or one sees the appearance of a gay character in his films as being some kind of judgment call on that particular lifestyle. Doesn’t necessarily mean that, though.

Kinda like how I’m seeing all these trans and gay people pop up in his films and I’m thinking more like, maybe he’s just intrigued by it. Or maybe he’s disgusted by it. Or maybe he’s turned on by it. Who knows but the man himself (and maybe his loved ones)? I don’t know what I’m talking about anymore, I’ve been writing this all night, I have to get ready for work in an hour, and I’m so goddamn tired. I just want to post this today before the 20th, otherwise if I finish then, that means by the time I get to the bar it’s going to be packed with decent human beings getting fucked up and burying their faith in their fellow man or woman, sitting on my favorite seat and drinking up all the Maker’s Mark. Then where am I supposed to sit? What am I supposed to drink? Which girl am I going to drunkenly wink at before the inevitable drink-in-face? FUCK THAT SHIT ESE. I’ll finish today.

After one final break, the lights came down and we saw trailers for Demons (co-written and produced by Argento) and Two Evil Eyes (directed by Argento and George A. Romero), then I decided to make a run for the restroom because the Red Bull I drank during Tenebrae was fuckin’ done with me, but as I left, I recognized the Swiss countryside and 1.66:1 aspect ratio as belonging to Phenomena — except the title card said Creepers, meaning this was the shorter U.S. cut. When I returned, the lights were back on and the screen was blank, so I’m guessing there was a technical issue. A few seconds later, the light went down and the movie came up and everything was A-OK again.

Like Tenebrae, I had seen this at the New Beverly before at the very first All Night Horror Show back in 2008. Unfortunately for lazy me, I didn’t have a blog yet back then, so I didn’t ramble about this movie or that evening. I’ll just have to ramble about the flick here.

Some girl is killed in the first five minutes, and she’s played by Dario Argento’s daughter Fiore, because Dario is on some Stuart Gordon shit by killing off loved ones in his films, I guess. Then Jennifer Connelly steps in, she’s the star, and wow, man, wow. I’m not gonna get all pervy because she was underage at the time, so I’ll just imagine that if a girl who looked like her went to my junior high school, I would definitely ask her out in my imagination while saying nothing to her in reality because being rejected sucks.

Jennifer Connelly plays Jennifer Corvino, a movie star’s daughter who is a new student at a Swiss boarding school, and the knives and claws are out for our girl because these other girls are some low self-esteem-having motherfuckers who are threatened by this beautiful newcomer. When it comes out that she’s a sleepwalker and a bug-lover (not in *that* way, you ass, she thinks of bugs the way I think of dogs and cats — they are more deserving of love than most humans), I was surprised Dario didn’t have the girls drool over this new tender spot in her soul to flick at.

By the way, that second thing of hers, the bug thing, it appears that the bugs love her back; they won’t sting or bite her and even a firefly will help her walk through a dark forest.

My most Corvino-esque moment in my youth was when I was in the first grade and during recess, some of my fellow students were gathered around the sandbox, where they had trapped a few ladybugs and were stabbing them with sticks. (Of course, they were all boys.) They were laughing and MWAHAHAHA-ing the way most of Argento’s villains laugh and MWAHA, and it really brought me down. But even back then I knew not to protest because they would then do to me what these fucking asshole Swiss boarding school students do to precious Jennifer (she’s so precious); incessantly mock her in the manner that only the heartless young (a redundancy, I know) can.

Thankfully, Precious Jennifer finds a friend in a wheelchair’d Donald Pleasence, and luckily he’s an entomologist, so they can both geek out about insects. There’s definitely a kind of grandfatherly vibe coming from him, and I liked watching their scenes together. I’ve only seen the longer Phenomena cut once back in ’99, so I can’t remember if there were more scenes between them, but the Creepers cut did leave me wanting more of that. Hell, I would’ve been fine with a movie that was just about their friendship.

But this is Dario Argento we’re talking here, baby! And if the way these films were programmed that night tells us anything, it’s that home-paisan has been getting nuttier and nuttier over the years with his stories. No way is he going to start dialing it down to something like a movie about two friends who bond over insects, no fucking way! No way Jose.

Instead, there’s someone or something out there, man, out there in the forest, and whatever it is, it sure loves getting head from schoolgirls — which is to say, he murders them and leaves behind their severed heads. Wait. Actually, my attempt at telling one of the hackiest R-rated jokes ever in the history of hacky R-rated jokes makes no sense at all. He takes the bodies, he ain’t getting head. He doesn’t want it.

Shit, maybe the Germans were right not to laugh.

I’ve heard that this is Argento’s favorite of his films; I’d have to watch the longer cut again to confirm, but what I remember from that one and what I do remember from the Creepers cut definitely makes it one of my favorites. My only quibble would be this: I like heavy metal and I like Dario Argento movies, but I was never a big fan of the both of them combined, which he does here and in Opera.

It’s a slow burner but by the end, Phenomena/Creepers goes completely off its rocker and if you’re not digging it, then you’re not digging vida, my friend. When this played at the first All Night Horror Show, it was the first film of the night and the audience loved it. They were particularly big on Inga The Chimpanzee With A Prolapsed Anus, for reasons I won’t give away, but yeah, her scenes were real crowd-pleasers. It played just as well with this audience too, who were a little more muted and slow to respond in comparison, probably because it was already around six in the morning and everybody was tired, but by the last ten minutes, everybody was up and jacked up by the cine-meth supplied by the film’s climax.

By 7:30 am, we had reached the end of the Dario Argento All Nighter.

Those of us who made it to the end (quite a few, actually) were rewarded with this coffee mug:

My girlfriend-less buddy and I then went to Little Dom’s in Los Feliz to try out their breakfast pizza, because I saw it on a rerun of “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” on the Cooking Channel. You know the Cooking Channel, right? If there’s an actor you haven’t seen in a while, he or she is probably hosting a show on that channel. Because suddenly everybody is a fucking chef now.

Only The Adorable Amy Adams and those who read my blog will be spared

Posted in douchebag, Hacksaw Ridge, ramblings of a loser, Uncategorized with tags , , on December 27, 2016 by efcontentment

Despite your greatest efforts, sometimes the hate builds up and you’ll be surprised where you decide to relieve yourself of it. Turns out that this time, I’m going to evacuate all over this fucking La La Land movie, which I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about. But I’m telling you in complete honesty, dear reader, that when the trailer popped up with Emma Stone singing a lovely sad tune over beautifully magical looking footage of her and Ryan Gosling in Los Angeles, a mantra formed in my mind and I repeated it non-stop until the clip ended: FUCK YOU MOVIE

No man, really. Fuck this movie. Fuck watching the trials and tribulations of two young good-looking White people in a city full of minorities who have some real shit going on and it’s only going to get shittier and that’s not counting the piece of human garbage — Human Nature incarnate! — who is going to run this fucking country in a few weeks. I don’t need and I don’t want. Not this fucking movie.

And I’m sure it’s great, this movie. And I’m sure it will win Best Picture. It might even deserve it more than the last magical Oscar-winning film that had people come out of the cinema tiptoeing on air after having seen it: The Artist. I do not believe in words like “overrated” and “underrated”, at least not in a serious manner, because they are douchebag words. Yes, I am a douchebag too but even I have my limits and those words are among them. Because those words, what they really mean is “everybody else is stupid for liking/disliking this, but not me” and I’m not down with that kind of belief. So I would not use “overrated” to describe The Artist but I would definitely say that I wish I experienced what everybody else experienced upon watching that non-experience of an experience.

ARGH! I’m being irrational but I’m letting it happen. I don’t want to watch White People Fall In Love In Browntown. So sue me. Then there were other trailers, but the last one was for Passengers starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence and again, I’m supposed to give a shit about two good-looking honkeys — in the future, no less! — FUCK DAT CHIT MANG FUCK EM ALL I BURY THOSE COCK-A-ROACHES ALL THE SAFETY PINS IN THE WORLD WILL NOT MAKE ME FEEL LESS FLOWING OF FIRE WITH YOU MOTHERFUCKERS no sir I will not see that movie either.

The worst part is knowing I would’ve been so down to see this movie had it come out last year.

But then the movie started, this movie I paid to see: Hacksaw Ridge. Because what I needed to see was lots of White people from the days when America Was Great die horrible fucking deaths in a war of which one of the major players was a cunt who convinced a country that he would make it great again if only we got rid of certain people who were bringing it down. Thank God that we learned from that and we will never make that mistake again because human beings are good that way.

And oh my brothers, it was beautiful. Guts and severed heads and flaming bodies and entrails and limbs and tears and plasma and morphine all over the place and BLOOOOOOOD so much blood it got my dick hard but because I’m not Mel Gibson I did not have pre-cum form at the tip. I suspect with Mel, it goes a little farther, he probably went a little gooey with all this violence.

Yeah, Mel Gibson directed this and I wish he hadn’t been born with the trifecta of mental illness + alcoholism + being raised by a father with fucked-up beliefs and the eagerness to upload them. Then maybe I wouldn’t have to wear a hat, sunglasses, and raincoat with the collar up just to work up the nerve to buy a ticket to his works nowadays. I mean, Mad Max aside, I really don’t give a fuck about seeing him act in more movies but holy shit I want him to keep directing because the motherfucker knows how.

So this movie is about a real life guy named Desmond Doss — and not once in this film does anyone call him “Double D” which I sure would had I known him. He’s played by Andrew Garfield, who I only know from The Social Network and Never Let Me Go, because I sure as fuck wasn’t going to waste my time on those fucking non-Raimi Spider-Man movies, no sir-fuckin-ree.

He’s really good in this film, playing a kind of aw-shucks sometimes goofy sometimes creepy simple bumpkin-esque Seventh-day Adventist who is big of heart and strong of faith. His beliefs are so strong, that he takes that commandment about not killing seriously. Doss will run far away, as far away from the concept of taking life as possible, all the way to becoming a combat medic so he can save lives in the war.

This poor dumb son-of-a-bitch signs up to go overseas for some WW2 non-killing only to find out that the United States Army doesn’t take kindly to the idea of him serving his country Conscientious Objector style. The funny thing is, neither does Doss; he prefers to call himself a “conscientious cooperator”, because he doesn’t object to the war — a war that he agrees is one against Evil — he just won’t touch a rifle. His fellow recruits show their understanding of his beliefs by beating the fuck out of him.

I guess I can try to see where these guys are coming from because they’re looking at it, like, if this goofy-looking motherfucker won’t pick up a rifle there’s no way he can watch my back. A motherfucker like him is a motherfuckin’ liability and I’m tired of these motherfuckin’ liabilities on this motherfuckin’ plane!

But goddamn, you really want to convince this guy by hurting him enough to change his mind? Well, what can you do? We’re talking about a generation of boys who grew up getting whippings every day for even looking at their old mans the wrong way — and that’s probably right after the old man just smacked dear old mom for overcooking the pot roast. This is what they know.

(And in the old man’s defense, this is the second time she burned dinner.)

Doss’ drill sergeant is played by Vince Vaughn, who appears to be having a good time playing, because that’s what it comes off as: playing. I mean, his ability is evidently not ability enough to convince me. I’m sorry, Mr. Vaughn, you’re fun to watch but really the only thing you can convince me of is that you’re probably in real life a charming quick-witted type who can turn into a hot-tempered asshole in a second, and you’re lucky this wasn’t made fifteen years ago because then Tom Sizemore would’ve been playing this part and he would’ve been a hell of a lot better at it.

On the other hand, you also have homeboy from Avatar here as Vaughn’s superior and it’s probably the best performance he’s given yet.

Since this is some real life true story shit, I am confident that I am not spoiling shit by telling you that Doss was awarded the Medal of Honor for saving 75 soldiers during the battle at the titular ridge — and he did it without even firing a single bullet. (It gets even crazier; in real life, Doss claimed he saved 50 while his superior said it was 100, so they compromised with 75 — which says a lot about a guy like Doss and the rest of us credit-inflating assholes.)

The first half of the film focuses on Doss’ life back home; everything during this part of the movie has a kind of cheap-ish nostalgia-glow that made me feel like I was watching something on ION or UP or Hallmark. I kept expecting Lacey Chabert or Lori Loughlin to show up somewhere, as some kind of career gal on the rise who discovers there’s more to life than making money, there’s also the spirit of Christmas or something. (Instead there’s Teresa Palmer as Doss’ sweetheart.)

I think the filmmakers decided to use up most of the budget on the second half, because gore and explosions ain’t cheap, son. I gotta give it up to Gibson, he might be the last horror filmmaker around to keep it real with the violence. I mean, there is some CGI blood used here and there but I swear it seemed like mostly old-school prosthetics were used. I stuck around during the closing credits looking for Tom Savini’s name somewhere, but nope, nothing.

That “horror filmmaker” part is only partly a joke; the second hour is a horror movie that can stand tall with Fury and Saving Private Ryan when it comes to imagery that would get an NC-17 in a slasher or zombie joint but because this is Real Life somehow it gets a pass from the ratings board. There’s also one moment among the moment-filled battle that gave me a jump scare in such a way, man, scary movies haven’t made me jump like that in forever. That part kinda reminded me of something that happened in Mad Max 2, leaving me to wonder if that was some kind of weird shout-out to George Miller. I wouldn’t put it past Mel, the fuckin’ nut.

As for how the Japanese are presented here, well, they were the enemy back then and so they’re the enemy in this film. This isn’t Letters from Iwo Jima, but the gruesome violence and its after effects seem to be dwelled upon the Americans more than the Japanese, and Doss appears to — as it has been documented — find all life precious, not just Yankee life. So I guess that’s as even-handed as it was ever going to get in this film.

Unlike fellow two-act war movie Stripes and like fellow two-act war movie Full Metal Jacket, this one maintains quality from beginning to end. It’s kind of fascinating the way it veers back-and-forth between hokey gosh-gee-willikers sentiment and dark-as-the-dickens grim imagery. It feels like constantly changing the channel between two different war movies on television — a dated red-white-and-blue rah-rah joint from the 50s and a cynical war-is-Hell movie made today. It’s that inconsistency of tone that keeps Hacksaw Ridge from being Apocalypto levels of Fucking Awesome in the Gibson auteur oeuvre but it’s still Pretty Fucking Good.

Oh, real quick before I wrap this up: Agent Smith from The Matrix is in this and he plays Doss’ papa. His character served in WWI and the experience left him a drunk who never hesitated to whip his sons or give his wife shit in the following years, and yet he’s not a complete son-of-a-bitch. There are moments where you see how much he sincerely loves his family (well, his sons at least – don’t know where he stands on the missus) despite his overwhelming manner of being a Fuck. My favorite is his reaction to Doss’ brother signing up for the military; he responds with some hard asshole-type words while struggling not to cry because it’s absolutely breaking his heart. It was heartbreaking for me to watch.

I don’t know about Doss’ dad, but I gotta give total absolute props and respect to a guy like Desmond Doss. I hate to admit how much of a cynic I am, even when it comes to men who serve in the military but this is one of those cases where I would love to shake the hand of someone like Doss, but I’m not going to because Doss has been dead for ten years so who knows what the fuck I’d be shaking by now. A skeleton hand?

But here’s a man whose faith in God was capital-L legit and with zero leeway for hypocritical actions. He didn’t think he was better than others despite what the other soldiers thought, there’s even a moment where he kinda freaks out at the possibility that his refusal to touch a weapon might come from pride rather than his love and respect of a higher power. Even after fact-checking and separating the Hollywood bullshit from reality, you’ll see that this man put up with a lot of shit and did not buckle once. And he didn’t deserve it, he put himself up for some genuine abuse before even getting to the action in Okinawa. Motherfucker was already under attack before going to war! I’m not that strong a person; if that were me, I probably would’ve given in and picked up a rifle — which I would then use to fire rounds into every asshole who fucked my shit up during Basic Training.

I don’t know. All I know is that in the end, when they showed real life footage Desmond Doss and others who served with him, I got teary eyed — in particular when they showed one guy talking about how he had judged Doss wrong. This guy, he was talking about how he thought Doss to be worthless as a soldier but in the end he did more and showed more courage than anyone with a rifle could. Tears roll down his face as he says this, and I saw myself in this dude, in the way he was being judgmental and in the way he felt bad for being that way. Because I know I have those instincts and I’m finding myself fighting what feels like 20/20 vision when it comes to reading what looks to be the clearest writing on the biggest wall when it comes to my fellow humans.

But then you have guys like Doss who took so much shit and still had the goddamn magnanimity to risk his life for every one of these bastard-asshole-cunts. It made me think that maybe there are still people like that out there. And if they are still out there, then maybe we’re not so fucked.

I’m still not going to see La La Land, though.

After it ended, I walked out of the auditorium and down the main aisle towards the nearest exit. I passed the concession stand where walking the opposite way were a group of girls in their late teens. One looked me over and then smiled and began giggling, then she leaned over to her friends and said something I couldn’t hear. They then looked at me and began giggling and smiling. It felt great, to be honest with you. I then walked into the restroom to use the facilities. When I went to wash my hands of excess popcorn butter and salt before touching a sensitive area, I took a look at myself in the mirror. “Maybe you’re not so bad looking”, I thought to myself, “at least the teen girls dig you in a ‘they don’t know any better’ kind-of-way”. I then upgraded that hope into a sincere belief that “maybe the old man still has it”. A couple fresh drops of water had splashed on my shirt, so I began drying them off with a paper towel. And that’s when I noticed that my fly was wide open and a tuft of underwear peeking out of it. If I hadn’t been blessed with such a small pecker, I’d probably have been locked up for indecent exposure. So I should at least be grateful for that.

In conclusion: as far as White people go, Doss was one of the good ones.

No one ever uses the turn signal

Posted in Arrival, douchebag, I Heart Amy Adams, Nocturnal Animals, ramblings of a loser, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on November 29, 2016 by efcontentment

For as many years as this country has left, November 2016 will forever be known as the month that our very own The Adorable Amy Adams had two films released in which she had a starring role, and both of them have had Oscar buzz. Also this was the month where that other thing happened.

I finally made time to catch them both the other day at the Arclight Cinemas in Pasadena, where I tortured myself with the lovely scent of freshly made popcorn that I can’t eat yet because of some recent dental work. I was able to eat an overly salted soft pretzel, though, which I’m sure gave me about a week’s worth of sodium in one bite.

First, there was Nocturnal Animals, written and directed by (I Don’t Pop Molly, I Rock) Tom Ford, adapted from a novel called “Tony and Susan” (which has now been retitled after the film because, well, money). The Triple A plays Susan, a well-off art gallery owner who is married to The Lone Ranger from The Social Network and has a daughter in college, but clearly she’s not happy, despite living in an awesome house that’s clearly populated by the damning evidence that the person occupying it has nothing but Good News in her bank account. But at least she’s aware. Susan tells her friend that she feels bad about feeling bad, because she knows she has it good.

The scene where Susan confides in her friend? They’re having a dinner party in that scene, and one of the guests is this young woman who is being cheerfully vulgar to the crowd, and we find out she’s a famous actress. I’m going right ahead and assuming that character was a kind of swipe at Jennifer Lawrence, at least because she appears to be the Hot Actress Who Is Such A Regular Joe Like The Rest Of Us du jour, that’s who I was reminded of. There is the occasional moment like that in this film — all of them during the Susan art-world scenes — that made me want to laugh out loud and e-mail Mr. Ford the Catty Motherfucker award.

Anyway, Susan receives a package in the mail from her ex-husband, containing the proof for his new novel. The name of the book is “Nocturnal Animals” and what’s better than having the title of the movie said by someone in the movie? I’ll tell you: having the title of the movie show up during the movie.

You mean, like in the credits?

Bitch, you know what the fuck I mean.

So she’s reading the book, right, and luckily we don’t follow each word she reads but instead we see it played out. The story begins with Donnie Darko from Nightcrawler taking his family on a road trip through West Texas. His wife is played by Isla Fisher aka The Australian Amy Adams, and that right there is why Tom Ford is my dude: he knows what’s up. There’s also a daughter played by quite possibly someone who was created in a machine using both Adams’ and Fisher’s DNA. He and his two Amys end up in a horrifying situation that took me off guard. I hadn’t seen any trailers or ads for this on purpose, I just knew it was a Tom Ford joint and The Adorable Amy Adams was in it, all I expected was that it would probably look good.

Darko’s family end pissing off a group of the kind of angry/cruel/irrational rednecks that would probably feel more at home angrily F-wording up the proceedings in a Rob Zombie film and you can tell these assholes are just looking for an excuse. It’s possibly the most worked up (in a negative sense) I’ve gotten watching a film this year, I was feeling both tensed up and enraged. I swear a couple times I wanted to scream at the fucking movie screen. Plus, I was thinking, what the fuck, this is Texas and nobody has a gun? Isn’t that the whole point of that fucking place — that they’re like their own little country that plays by its own rules and shit?

Ford’s almost as sadistic as those characters, because right when you’re all worked up and ready to see what’s about to happen, the film cuts back to Susan taking a break from reading because the events in the book are working her up in a negative way too. (Also, she’s seeing a lot of parallels between the characters in the book and Susan & Ex-Husband.) The novel then turns into something that feels like some Cormac McCarthy shit written in between chapters of “No Country for Old Men”, and that’s when Michael Shannon shows up and he is, to nobody’s surprise, great in this.

Everybody is great in this, like Mr. Jake Gyllenhaal; this poor guy has been really putting himself out there every year to good notices and nothing else. The Academy finally gave an Oscar to DiCaprio, now they need to give it to Jakey G. here before he does something rash like cine-torture himself for Alejandro G. Innaritu. I don’t know if it’s going to happen for him this year, but Jesus, at least give him a Supporting nod because I think the dude deserves it for his work here.

I would be surprised if Amy Adams gets any kind of award recognition here. Because her character is more internal, that means all her beats have to be subtle, so hers is not a particularly showy performance and you know Oscar is kinda deaf and vision-impaired; they’ll probably be able to make out Gyllenhaal but they’ll be squinting their eyes and cupping their hands to their ears going “Whaaa?” at poor Amy. Whatever, she’s always been bringing the quality goods to these proceedings, which is all that matters.

(Until she eventually wins, of course. Then it will be all that matters. Suddenly Oscars will mean everything.)

The film cuts between the novel, Susan reading it and doing her art gallery/unhappy-well-off-woman-in-her-40s thing, and flashbacks to when Susan and her ex-husband (also played by Gyllenhaal) were in their early 20s. That last part, the early 20s stuff, really tripped me out because there is some kind of movie magic being used here to make them look like they just finished promoting Junebug and Jarhead in ’05. If there’s CGI de-aging being used, then it’s not as heavy as when they young’d up Robert Downey Jr. in Captain America: Civil War — either that or the technology has improved that much over these past few months, because it looks a lot more natural.

I’m thinking it’s a combination of aging up Adams (black clothes and caked on makeup) and Gyllenhall (thick ass beard) in the beginning, and then cleaning them up in the flashbacks with some light CGI work. Whatever the case, it’s not just the wow factor of that shit that got me, but it worked because it really hit me how much happier and fresher the characters look because Life hadn’t bent them over yet.

This is Ford’s second film, following 2009’s A Single Man (which I rambled about somewhere here) and like that film, this one is pretty goddamn good. (Like that one, this one isn’t the feel good movie of the year either.) He wrote the screenplay adaptation and knocked that out, he gets good performances from his actors, he is clearly a big part of the visual look for this film — a film so beautifully set designed and shot-composed, one could freeze-frame a random moment and frame it on a wall.

And man oh man, you can tell a Tom Ford joint from the others just on the fact that everybody here is so impeccably dressed and groomed. (Even the West Texas stuff gives everyone an artfully disheveled kind of look.) They all look like they stepped out of ads from a fashion magazine; as soon as I saw Armie Hammer step in for a giant glass of iced coffee in this movie, I’m thinking Fuck I Need That Suit I Need That Haircut.

LATE BREAKING UPDATE: EFC believes Tom Ford would make a stylish-as-fuck James Bond movie if they’re cool with an American/Texan directing a 007 movie.

Also, there’s two instances of Girls Wearing Glasses here, and in case you didn’t know, that’s like a thing I have. It’s not a fetish, no sir, I don’t need glasses to get hard or achieve orgasm, it’s not that kind of party. I’m just saying it ups every lady’s attractiveness quotient by like 10 percent for me. I can’t explain it, it just is, dude. Like, if I had directed She’s All That, it would’ve been about Laney putting those glasses back on after her makeover. Anyway, Susan puts on glasses sometimes to read the novel and then later on Jena Malone shows up in a pair of thick frames and that put a smile on my penis — FACE! I MEAN IT PUT A SMILE ON MY FACE!

(The rest of you Gyllenhaals and Hammers can stick to contacts and laser eye surgery. No glasses for you. Nobody wants to see that shit. My eyes are Exit Only, bro.)

I hate this motherfucker Tom Ford, this man who already won at life long ago but then decided to become a filmmaker — and he’s great at it! At least so far he’s great at it. Maybe next time he’ll fall on his face and get to feel what it’s like to be loser for once HAHAHAHAHAHA SUCK IT FORD

If you’re into seeing naked obese women jumping around with firecrackers but you’re not really interested in this film, then show Amy your support by buying a ticket for this movie, and then sit down and watch the first five minutes of this, then get up and walk over to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and watch that shit. I mean why not? They don’t need your money, they’re gonna make like 20 years worth of sequels for that shit. But I want to see more movies directed by Tom Ford and starring The Triple A, and that shit ain’t happening unless some fuckin’ cash is flowed into their current projects.

I then flowed some more money Ms. Adams’ way while dealing out ducats in Denis Villeneuve’s direction; the second half of my Triple A Double Feature was the aliens-are-here movie Arrival. Look, I get it — there was no disrespect intended towards David Twohy and Charlie Sheen by giving their film the same title as theirs, they shot this as Story of Your Life which is the title of the Ted Chiang’s short story it was based on. But I’m sure the studio suits were like Nah, Bro, Nah and so now we have these dueling Arrivals.

Except I think some respect was paid here, because the original film is titled The Arrival while this one eliminates the The. The filmmakers are saying “It’s cool, we’re Arrival but you guys are THE Arrival and no one will forget that.” It’s kind of like what they did with the Evil Dead remake a few years ago; they were Evil Dead but Sam Raimi’s will always be THE Evil Dead.

Had I not known that this was from the director of Sicario and Prisoners, I would’ve thought this was a Terrence Malick joint early on. It has that same handheld shallow-focus personally close/personally distant look thing going on with narration over it, and I’m thinking, wow, has his style become like a thing now? Like I see even dudes like Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan taking this style, and I’m afraid I’ll get sick of it, the way I’m sick of zombies now. Meanwhile, much like George A. Romero, it seems like Malick is getting props as the originator while everybody else makes bank off of it. It’s not fair, but whoever said this shit was?

So yeah, it opens with our Amy as Dr. Louise Banks, she’s a linguist but she works for a living as a professor at a college, she’s probably too busy to correct your grammar and all that shit online or at least I don’t think she does. Or maybe that’s just an English major thing, I don’t know what Dr. Banks majored in, so who knows if she would correct your tweets and e-mails if she knew you.

Come to think of it, I don’t even know if she has any friends, she just has a nice house by the lake — oh shit, that reminds me, both her character in this film and her character in Nocturnal Animals share similarities in that they both hang their hats in nice pads and both have trouble sleeping. So there you go, it’s the Amy Adams Lives In A Nice House And Can’t Sleep double bill, ya’ll,

Anyway, she lives alone in this nice lake house — well, she lives alone *now* because in the beginning we watch her raise a kid until the kid becomes a pre-teen who then dies of some disease, so we’re dealing with that heavy shit too.

But yeah, she lives alone, and she’s so into her bubble that one day she’s walking through the university while people around her are looking all weirded and freaked, but she doesn’t notice this. She then walks into her class and wonders why there’s like five people in this big room, then everybody’s phones start to ring and she’s like “Huh?” until she turns on the giant flat screen television behind the dry-erase board and that’s when I went HUH?!

Bro, I missed all this good shit. In schools primary, secondary, and post-secondary, if we were gonna watch television for something in class, that shit had to be carted in on some big metal tv-stand shelf cart-thingy. And it was the square tube tv, too. Man, these kids today now have giant flat-screens to watch the world go ape-shit on? Lucky motherfuckers.

Or maybe not, because I was talking to my niece and nephew and they told me that at their schools they got rid of soda machines and sugary snacks and all that shit. The food is all health conscious stuff, and part of me is thinking that’s a very good thing because we need to wean the future generations off of garbage that does nothing for you other than give you a brief moment of joy in this overcrowded sinking ship of a planet. And the other part of me is like, damn, so you kids missed out on insane lunches like Rice Krispies Treats washed down with a Dr. Pepper, which was one of my go-tos in high school. I’m really surprised I still have all ten fingers and toes, to be honest with you.

Anyway, so she finds out on the tv that giant spacecrafts have materialized out of nowhere, 12 in all, and they’re hovering over different spots in the world. There’s one chilling out over a field in Montana, USA and that’s why Colonel Ghost Dog shows up to recruit her to join the Devil’s Tower-meets-Tent City festivities out in that field to help them figure out how to communicate with the things inside and figure out what they want. She’s joined by Marvel’s Hawkeye, playing a scientist who’s all about the math, so fuck that guy — because math is the fastest way to remind me how stupid I am.

What your usual sci-fi action-adventure would spend about a couple minutes on, Arrival devotes its entire running time; the movie is all about trying to figure out how to figure out what these aliens are saying. They just want to be able to ask these things what is the purpose of their visit, business or pleasure? Of course, you have different ideas from different kinds of people; a couple of educated libtards like Dr. Banks and Hawkeye think it’s more of a peaceful let’s-help-each-other type of visit, while shadowy creepy CIA types like the dude from A Serious Man (not to be confused with Tom Ford’s A Single Man) think these aliens are on some Independence Day type shit. Then you have Colonel Ghost Dog who is more of a I Don’t Question Orders, I Just Follow Them type who just wants good enough answers from Banks and Hawkeye to give to his superiors. (He’s also from a part of the country I haven’t figured out yet; based on his accent here, he’s either from Boston or Texas.)

Upon finding out that I was going to see this film, a buddy of mine who had already seen Arrival told me that he liked it and then we had the following text exchange:

See, my Good Friend here has my Amy Adams admiration figured out incorrectly, but I indulge him by responding in kind because that’s what Good Friends do. You talk to me about Amy Adams like that and I’ll indulge you too, you son-of-a-bitch bastard.

(To be honest, I felt like Ms. Adams needed to cover herself up during the bathtub scene in the Batman/Superman movie because there were plenty of men in the audience who were going to get the wrong idea about her. And we most certainly couldn’t have that. She’s a nice girl! Plus, I didn’t want her to catch cold.)

I’m a sucker for scenes of Smart People Figuring Shit Out, like, my favorite scene in Apollo 13 was when all those nerds are gathered around a table and they’re told they have to find a way to get one device to connect another device using only the various tools and junk on the table and Arrival is kinda like that scene. It’s a slow-moving film but not boring, it’s just they’re taking baby steps in this one; the funny thing is even with a deliberate pace the film takes more than its share of shortcuts.

Like early on, when Banks and Hawkeye are taken on-board the ship to talk to the aliens, they go through this whole process of getting on a scissor lift that elevates them to the ship’s entrance, then they hop off and let the ship’s anti-gravity thingy carry them the rest of the way, where they then begin walking the rest of the vertical path like it ain’t no thing. Then they get to this glass wall where the aliens are on the other side — by the way, kudos for finding a way to give us aliens that don’t follow the usual humanoid shape with big eyes and all that. They’re kinda spider-y, kinda octopus-y, and they’re both cool and scary at the same time.

By the time our scientists are boarding the ship for the first time, Ghost Dog and company have already gone through all of this, to the point that Ghost Dog shows no signs of excitement or tension or anything. He seems kinda bored by it. And I’m thinking, holy shit, that’s a whole movie right there! Imagine what these guys went through at the very beginning of this — and how long! — how long did it take them to figure all that shit out about how to board the ship and deal with the anti-gravity and all that shit, before being all nonchalant about it by the time Banks and Hawkeye arrived? If I remember it right, it was about two days before Team Banks arrived. Two days! These boys had to have been working around the clock. And who was the lucky son-of-a-gun who took that first step onto that ship?

(They do carry a bird with them in a cage with every visit, placing it a few feet ahead of them. So maybe they should give that bird a medal of some kind. Or some quality newspaper for its cage.)

Anyway, that’s what I mean by shortcuts. We’ll never know that or how even in the brief period of time they are able to make the advances that they make and then I remind myself that it’s a movie and that they only have so much time to tell this story before losing us all in the minutiae. Besides, that Cleveland Show-looking motherfucker Neil Degrasse-Tyson would shit all over it on Twitter (if he hasn’t already) on how much they got wrong while never understanding that all the degrees and smarts in the fucking galaxy will not help him reach the self-awareness required to step back for a couple seconds and say to himself “Neil, you are doing a lot of good for humanity by stressing the importance of knowledge — in particular in the fields of science and reason. We need a lot more of that in a world drowning in superstition. But dude, you are a thin-skinned asshole who thinks he’s fucking hilarious, and that, sir, is not a good combo.”

No sir, a good combo is Amy Adams and Denis Villeneuve. Arrival is a heavy-on-the-science sci-fi joint with some surprising emotion popping up here and there. It features a great performance by The Triple A, but, oh Amy, I’m sorry but you’re probably not getting any Oscar gold with this one either. I’m thinking about it, and I’m realizing that she ends up doing a lot of acting by herself, which has to be one of the hardest things for an actor. I think I mentioned this on the blog a while back, but there is what I call the Robert Forster school of acting, named after one of my favorite actors who will never win an award because his stuff is so subtle and within and I already told you how the Academy gets down with performances like that. And I think for these two back-to-back performances, she took a brush-up course at that school.

Also, it does that movie thing that Kiss Kiss Bang Bang made fun of, where if a shot lingers on a nameless character a little too long after the fact, like the cook in The Hunt for Red October, you can bet the fuckin’ Brinks truck that Chekov’s Extra is going to pop up in some plot-changing shit later, you just fucking know, bro!

As for the ending, I liked it but I can see how it would piss off others. It’s not a twist, by the way, at least not in my book (pre-orders available now!), just a revelation that some people have issues with, either for logical reasons or whatever else they have a bug up their asses about. I dug it. It kinda reminded me of the ending to — well, shit, it reminds me of the endings to a lot of things, to be real with you.

OK, I’ll mention one of them — Runaway Train, and I feel comfortable saying that one without feeling that I spoiled something because you will not be able to figure out the connection. You would need to invite me to an expensive dinner that you will pay for, and it would have to be after I’ve had at least half of that meal before I explain to you how I feel that both this film and Runaway Train have similar endings. They all have to do with Free Will, I’ll give you that much/little.

(Also, they are both similar in that this film also features a scene where Amy Adams is shouting out of a runaway train screaming at an evil warden in a helicopter above her while sticking her middle finger at him, in between taking slugs out of Eric Roberts’ flask, saying “sucka” in every other sentence.)

It was a morning/afternoon well spent at the Arclight Pasadena. I don’t know if they do this for all the movies at the Arclight, but for both Arrival and Nocturnal Animals there was a clip before each film telling us that after the credits there would be some extra behind-the-scenes stuff. They were each about five minutes or so; the Nocturnal Animals one featured Gyllenhaal and Ford and it focused on how the ending could be interpreted, while the Arrival one featured Ms. Adams doing her impersonation of her French-Canadian director — which I of course found delightful. I appreciated these little extras, called “Arclight Stories” because they allow you to stick around after the credits for other reasons aside from finding out if there are any hints about what the next Marvel film is going to be about.

Nocturnal Animals or Arrival? You can’t go wrong with either one, whether you’re an Amy Adams fan or a fan of good movies. But I get it. You have kids, or just like Dwayne Johnson so much, you just have to see Moana, right? It’s cool. I mean, you can go fuck your mother, but it’s cool.

U SAD, BRO?

Posted in Brain Damage, Devil Fetus, douchebag, Dusk-To-Dawn Horrorthon, Hell Night, Humanoids from the Deep, movie marathon, Phantasm II, ramblings of a loser, The Blob ('88), The Entity, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 13, 2016 by efcontentment

Hi lady and gentleman! How are you doing? Me, I’m very tired. You see, I went to Vegas the previous weekend and I paid good money to go on a tour via a time machine to go back to the past. It got kinda boring, once the initial surprise of being in the past wore off, so I passed the time (haha) by sneaking away from the tour group and then I got chased by a T-Rex! It was totes kewl, you guys! Anyway, I’m back now and I’ve noticed things are different. It appears that everybody except the assholes are so down about something. Sad!

Usually I don’t bother rambling about something once it’s been a week after the fact but I can’t go outside because there’s people blocking the streets protesting something so here I go about last month — October 29th, to be exact — when my buddy and I attended the 11th Annual Dusk-to-Dawn Horrorthon held at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica.

Among the people in line waiting for a good time — and among those waiting to be let into the Aero Theatre for the Horrorthon — were the usual pajama wearers and the provisioned and the ones already tucking into said provisions, all of them guaranteeing a more difficult time getting through this all night marathon scheduled to begin at 7:30pm and end sometime around ???

But as the wizened ol’ prostitute was wont to declare, different strokes for different folks. Personally what helps is to try to have an at-home movie marathon the night before in order to acclimate my sleeper to the demanding overnight schedule. (This used to be easier when I was unemployed and each day and night blended together in a nightmarish amorphous d’night or n’ay impossible to distinguish from each other.) That way I can sleep all day and get up a couple hours before the festivities all refreshed and ready to take these flicks on.

Also, I keep it light in the sustenance department, if possible I only have a cup of coffee (in the big time) and nothing else until the marathon, where even then I’d tread lightly — maybe some popcorn — until they bring out the pizza (this usually happens after the second film) and not treading at all on sugar and/or caffeine and/or energy drinks until the last couple of films where the eventual crash won’t set in until the end.

It was a packed house, as always. Many people wearing costumes or maybe those were just regular everyday wear because I’m old and un-hip and can’t tell the difference. Official Horrorthon trading cards were being sold in the lobby and I bought three packs. The cards featured many of the characters that have popped up on stage in past Horrorthons, like the Corn Gorn, Wizard Policeman, and Frost Nixon, among many others. The back of the cards had stats and a “credit score”; the credit score was used throughout the night during raffles for stuff like Horrorthon action figures. They’re pretty cool, these cards, and I have already started putting them away and I guess I have to thank the Horrorthon peeps for turning me into a card collector. Looking forward for next year’s set, if they continue with it. In the meantime, I’m gonna slam these cards on a table in front of all those Magic the Gathering nerds and be all like “WHAT! MAKE A MOVE, SON!”

So, as per usual the host Grant Moninger came down and got us all riled up and hyped up and brought on said characters — usually turning around with his back to the crowd in order to do the voices for some of them — and it’s funny how throughout the years I slowly stopped being a fuddy duddy about it and have grown to enjoy these inter-movie segments of All Out Fuckery. (Or maybe not, considering I just used the word “fuddy duddy” which feels like something only fuddy duddies would say.) I still wear earbuds during these high-volume moments, though. I like my shout-fests slightly muffled, unless I’m the one shouting.

(Little pre-show digression: So I went to the bathroom before the show started and I saw Grant walking out into the lobby. One of the volunteers called out to him “Grant” and then he called him again and Grant then turned around and said a kind of too-loud “WHAT?” in a tone that I have chosen to interpret in two ways:

1) It’s a loud raucous room and he is only trying to make himself heard.

2) Throwing a Horrorthon — or any event, really — is some stressful shit. It’s tough enough to throw a party, knowing that even if you’re throwing it and it’s at your house and it’s in your honor, you will be the one most likely NOT to have a good time. Because you really shouldn’t. You should be too busy making sure everybody is comfortable, the food and drink is steadily flowing, making sure nobody is fucking in the bathroom, making sure nobody is putting out their Kools on your floor, etc. Now imagine *that* on an all-nighter like at the New Beverly or here at the Aero. What do we, the guests, know what is going on behind-the-scenes? It could all be on the verge of falling the fuck apart at any moment for all we know. And that could be some stressful shit, man. Anyway, I’m just saying for all the shit I talk, I appreciate what guys like Grant and company at the Aero — and everybody at the New Beverly — have to go through in order to give us a good time. Unless they’re not having a difficult time and are actually enjoying themselves — which in that case, I take it back, go pound sand, ya bastids.)

And so we were shown the “T.J. Hooker” clips where the opening credits would include names of people in the Horrorthon audience along with the names of the characters they supposedly play on the show, and the credits would continue on into the events of the episode itself. Too much time passed between that night and today, and I don’t take notes for these things, and for some reason my head begins to throb with pain and my eyes begin tearing up blood if I try to remember anything past last Tuesday, so I couldn’t tell you some of the character names given to various people in the audience. I only remember some of the events on-screen where I think a donut shop was robbed and T.J. and his partner chase after the suspect and I think the suspect was really young and he gave up because he had his whole life ahead of him or whatever. If that even happened at all, I might just be making this up because I think that’s what happened.

Then we had old favorites like the Alan Alan Alan marmotRed Roof Inn commercial (people brought their own remotes to hold up when homebody said “Remote!), Stop Using Dirty Catheters, those Living God clips for curing various maladies, Helicopter/Not a Helicopter, among many others, but the newest additions were a series of campaign ads that played throughout the night for Brendan Byrne, former two-term Democratic governor of New Jersey. After a few of these, the audience eventually started yelling out “Feel the Byrne!” I looked him up and he’s still kicking at 92 years old, and he also said a while back that Gov. Chris Christie was “the best candidate that the Republicans have” for President of the United States this electionnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnooooooooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHJJJJJJEEEEEEEEEEEEEEZZZZZZZZZZUUUUUUUUUUSSSSSSSSSFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRRRRRRMMMMMMMMMMMMMMHHHHHHEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLPPPPPPUUUUUUUUSSSSSSSSSSSSSSYYYYYYOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUWWWWWWIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOTTTTTTTBBBBBBBEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSAAAAAAAVVVVVVEEEEEEEDDDDDDDBBBBBBBBBYYYYYYYYTTTTTTTTHHHHHHHHHHHEEEEEEEEEHHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLYYYYYYYYYYYGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSSSSSSSTTTTTTTTTYYYYYYYYYYYYYYOOOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUUWWWWWWWWWWIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLLLLNNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTBBBBBBBBBBBBBEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSAAAAAAAAAAAAVVVVVVVVVVVVVEEEEEEEEEEEEDDDDDDDDDDDDDBBBBBBBBBBBBYYYYYYYYYYYYYYTTTTTTTTTTTTHHHHHHHHHHHHHEEEEEEEEEEEGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGOOOOOOOOOOOOOODDDDDDDDDDDDPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNNNNNIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACCCCCCCCCCCCCCTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLLLLLLNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOTTTTTTTTTTTTTTBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!ILIVE!PH’NGLUIMGLW’NAFHCTHULHUR’LYEHWGAH’NAGLFHTAGNPH’NGLUIMGLW’NAFHCTHULHUR’LYEHWGAH’NAGLFHTAGNPH’NGLUIMGLW’NAFHCTHULHUR’LYEHWGAH’NAGLFHTAGNPH’NGLUIMGLW’NAFHCTHULHUR’LYEHWGAH’NAGLFHTAGNPH’NGLUIMGLW’NAFHCTHULHUR’LYEHWGAH’NAGLFHTAGNPH’NGLUIMGLW’NAFHCTHULHUR’LYEHWGAH’NAGLFHTAGNPH’NGLUIMGLW’NAFHCTHULHUR’LYEHWGAH’NAGLFHTAGNPH’NGLUIMGLW’NAFHCTHULHUR’LYEHWGAH’NAGLFHTAGNPH’NGLUIMGLW’NAFHCTHULHUR’LYEHWGAH’NAGLFHTAGNPH’NGLUIMGLW’NAFHCTHULHUR’LYEHWGAH’NAGLFHTAGNPH’NGLUIMGLW’NAFHCTHULHUR’LYEHWGAH’NAGLFHTAGNPH’NGLUIMGLW’NAFHCTHULHUR’LYEHWGAH’NAGLFHTAGNPH’NGLUIMGLW’NAFHCTHULHUR’LYEHWGAH’NAGLFHTAGNPH’NGLUIMGLW’NAFHCTHULHUR’LYEHWGAH’NAGLFHTAGNPH’NGLUIMGLW’NAFHCTHULHUR’LYEHWGAH’NAGLFHTAGNPH’NGLUIMGLW’NAFHCTHULHUR’LYEHWGAH’NAGLFHTAGNPH’NGLUIMGLW’NAFHCTHULHUR’LYEHWGAH’NAGLFHTAGNPH’NGLUIMGLW’NAFHCTHULHUR’LYEHWGAH’NAGLFHTAGNPH’NGLUIMGLW’NAFHCTHULHUR’LYEHWGAH’NAGLFHTAGNPH’NGLUIMGLW’NAFHCTHULHUR’LYEHWGAH’NAGLFHTAGNPH’NGLUIMGLW’NAFHCTHULHUR’LYEHWGAH’NAGLFHTAGNPH’NGLUIMGLW’NAFHCTHULHUR’LYEHWGAH’NAGLFHTAGNPH’NGLUIMGLW’NAFHCTHULHUR’LYEHWGAH’NAGLFHTAGN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

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Whew! Sorry about that guys. Something happened there, my head started throbbing again and blood was coming out of my mouth, ears, nose, eyes and…let me check….nope, that’s it for orifices. I have a spot of grey hair on one side of my scalp now. Weird. Anyway, where was I?

I would be far beyond remiss to not mention the two different music videos for “Like an Eagle” by Dennis Parker that always gets the crowd worked up. I’m gonna say it, I legitimately dig the fuck out of this song. It makes me want to go on that time machine again and take it to the late 70s where I would do all the cocaine while rocking out to this song.

They also showed this all night.

We were given a nice serving of nostalgia before each film; it was the old KTLA 5 intro for “Movies til Dawn”, which I remember from way back in the day. You see, kids, before informercials some of your local television stations would air movies in the middle of the night. You watched and you discovered stuff this way, rather than spending 45 minutes going through Netflix’s ever-dwindling library before deciding on one and then only watching two minutes of it before going back to the library for another one.

The first film was the 1988 remake of The Blob, directed by Chuck Russell and co-written by Russell with muthafuckin’ Frank Darabont. So I guess it’s no surprise to tell you that this is much better than you’d think. The movie stars Shawnee Smith from the Saw movies and Kevin Dillon from that HBO show about Hollywood douchebags and like the original it takes place in a Small Town U.S.A. where a meteorite lands and out of it comes this gelatinous mass — a Blob, if you will — and one unfortunate hobo later, this thing is on a rampage, getting larger and larger with each human it engulfs.

I’ve seen this three times while I’ve only seen the original once, and that was a long time ago, so until I watch the 1958 version again it’s unfair to say that clearly the remake is better. But it certainly feels like it’s better. Unlike the original you spend time with some of these characters and you’re not sure who’s getting blobbed and who isn’t, and sometimes it’ll surprise you with its choices. For example — fuck it, I’m spoiling everything here — the movie introduces Donovan Leitch’s character before anyone else and spends enough time with him that it’s a shock — at least it was to me, the first time — that he ends up #2 on the Blob list.

Then you have the kind waitress and the tough-but-kinda-fair-except-to-Dillon’s-character sheriff and they clearly have a thing for each other; they’re barely making that shift from Friendly to See Me After My Shift is over. Their final moment together is a giddily fucked-up one; she’s trapped in a phone booth outside the diner which is getting all Blobbed up, calling for the sheriff. The operator tells her that he’s unavailable because he left for the diner. The waitress looks to the side and there’s the sheriff’s body floating by her in the Blob — right before the Blob enters the booth to make sure she and the sheriff go on their first and final corrosive date together.

I liked those characters — shit, I liked all the characters, save for a couple — and that’s one of the things that makes this remake of The Blob at least feel like it’s better to me at the moment. It does not fuck around. Anybody can get Blobbed — even little kids get it — and when they do it won’t be pretty. Or fast. It’s definitely gorier and more disturbing, where it didn’t go more detailed than just seeing someone get jelly all over himself and fall out of frame. This one, you see these poor people try to scream but they got Blob all over them, you see faces melt or stretch out, you get the sense that the victims do not go quick.

And that right there I find fucking terrifying. If you are chased by Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers and you are caught, the horror ends one sudden machete swing or knife stab later. You don’t have to worry about a Jason or a Michael anymore. However they kill you, sure it’ll be painful but it’ll be quick. (At least in the originals, because I know they’re more sadistic in the remakes.)

But the Blob? Shit, man, the horror begins when it gets you. How fucking long does it take to be digested by that thing? Too long, whatever the answer is. OK fine, I’m sure the Sarlaac has it beat in that department, but at least the Sarlaac is stationary and as long as you stay away from it you’ll probably be fine. But the Blob is coming for you, bro.

Of the two people I was glad to see blobbed, one was a sleazy dude up at some make-out point with a girl. He’s trying to Cosby her shit up something awful with booze he mixed up from his portable bar in the trunk of his car. He had given her a ring, I guess to prove that she’s the one — but back in the trunk we see he has a box full of them. A lady in the audience then yelled “Get him, Blob!” and we all laughed. Then after he finally got blobbed, the same lady then yelled “Let that be a lesson to you boys!” and we all laughed and applauded.

The other was the head scientist from some shady government agency; whereas the Blob in the original was from outer space, this one was a bio-weapon to use against our enemies, like the Commies. This movie was made in the 80s when that was some real shit, being all Rocky vs. Drago with Russia. I’m sure that bit then got dated in the 90s when we were all right with the Reds. But now here we are in 2016 and we’re back at sub-zero Cold War levels with Putin Country and so the shit is back to being timely again. Haha.

The second film was Devil Fetus, a Hong Kong joint from 1983. I don’t know who was responsible for this film, but this dude or chick must be the Chinese Larry Cohen, because it shares the similarity with his work in that it feels like the screenplay wasn’t written with a beginning/middle/end plot outline but just made up as it goes along. Only this Chinese Larry Cohen dials it up to 11.

The movie begins with a lady purchasing a small sculpture of a cock & balls at an auction and she takes it home and while her hubby is out of town, she starts fondling it and somewhere along the way the Creature from the Black Lagoon with a white wig is fucking her and Blade Runner music is playing during it. The husband then comes home and freaks out, taking the sculpture and smashes it, which immediately results in his face falling apart and so he throws himself out the window.

They have a funeral, she comes home, her husband’s voice scares her, a cat jumps out and she falls over the stair rail and now there’s another funeral. At the funeral, a priest uses his x-ray vision to look through the coffin and sees that the dead lady’s belly is growing and growing and growing until a small demonic baby — a Devil Fetus, if you will — bursts out but the priest puts the kibosh on that shit and everything is OK again at the funeral.

He tells the dead girl’s sister that in order to help the dead lady and her dead husband move on to reincarnation, she has to keep some seals (the good luck kind, not the sea creatures, or Heidi Klum’s ex-husband squared) over the pictures of the deceased or the ashes or whatever for ten years and DO NOT DISTURB THEM don’t mess with the seals whatever you do.

Almost ten years later, guess what in the fuck ends up happening to those seals?

OK, you probably guessed that, but you won’t guess anything else that happens in this fucking nut-pourri of a motion picture. Some girl who is either a cousin or something in the family ends up fucking with the seals and then it all goes down, man. The family dog goes nuts and has to get samurai sword’d, then the evil inside the dog inhabits one of the other family members and then, oh I don’t know how I’m gonna do this. I’d be telling you the whole movie.

What I’ll do is just give away elements like possessed cars, party guests eating maggot cake, one dude goes full trans for one scene and jerking off until the film suddenly cuts to a can of Coke being popped open with full foamy discharge, old wise priests with their special effects laden wizardry, a room that closes in and crushes some dude like a watermelon, keeping dead dogs under beds (then eating them), keeping dead girls under beds (then eating them), music taken from John Carpenter, Brian Eno, and Vangelis, Evil Dead style shenanigans, all of that shit.

It’s a wacky movie, and I will acknowledge that my lack of knowledge when it comes to ghostly spiritual myths that are part of Chinese culture could be part of what makes Devil Fetus so WTF and off-putting. But if I had to guess, maybe Hong Kong audiences were probably kind of like Whaaaa? about the events in this film too, this film that doesn’t even care to really explain things or even give us a legitimate way to end it (the movie pretty much just stops). This print came from the American Genre Film Archive, and it had those ultra-dodgy subtitles in both English and Mandarin that you see in films like these, so maybe the movie would make more sense had the dialogue not been handed off to someone with a vague handling of the language.

Of course they gave us free pizza after the gross-out we just witnessed. An Aero volunteer in a Mike Love costume kept announcing to everybody as we stepped out into the lobby, “soylent pizza, get your soylent pizza”. My friend and I went outside to eat our slices (and our pizza) and when we came back ten or so minutes later, Mike Love was still doing the “soylent pizza” call — only now his voice was damn near gone. This guy, you could never doubt his commitment to Sparkle Motion, that’s for sure. During the first five minutes of the following film, Mike Love stepped into the theater and silently offered the rest of the leftover pizza to people in the aisles and you bet your ass me and my buddy grabbed a couple more.

Between films, we had more Moninger madness with him bringing out the various Horrorthon characters, kind of like live-action stage interstitials before the video interstitials. He (and Randy and Corn Gorn and everybody else) was giving away so much candy and movies, it was beautiful. He’d even give away stuff on his way out the auditorium before the film would start, handing stuff over to people on the aisles. This might be the best all-nighter I ever attended, for the most selfish reasons of all — 5 of them, to be exact. By the end of the night, I ended up with Blu-rays of Gravity (3D), American Sniper, Walk the Line, Enemy of the State, and Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau. We all wanted those movies and candy (from Randy!) so much, but Grant noticed it was a lot harder to give away copies of Dallas Buyer’s Club, which is an excellent film with an excellent performance but c’mon, it’s not exactly anybody’s idea of a fun time, unless that somebody is Mr. AIDS.

The third film of the night was 1982’s The Entity, directed by Sidney J. Furie and starring Barbara Hershey. The film begins with a typical day in the life of single mom Carla Moran, as she works by day, goes to night school by, uh, night, and then comes home to see that neither one of her three kids took the time to wash the goddamn dishes. It’s tough enough to deal with that shit but on this particular night things go from typical to Jesus Christ Please Let This Be A One Time Thing when she is violated by an unseen force — an Entity, if you will.

Unfortunately this does not turn out to be a one time thing as Moran is repeatedly attacked by this thing, anywhere and anytime, at home, in a car, at a friend’s place, even in front of her family. They’re rough, these scenes, as they should be. Up front, I’m telling you this was the toughest film of the night for me to watch. For one thing, I’ve always been squeamish about rape scenes in films — unless it’s happening to a guy.

I’m kidding, of course. That shit is just too real for me, I mean, you grow up playing cops and robbers and being killed and shit like that but who the fuck plays at getting raped? Does that make sense? I’m not desensitized to stuff like that, I guess. It might as well be the real thing to me. I don’t know, I can’t really explain it. Maybe I need a psychiatrist to help me out here.

Speaking of which, that’s what Carla does by going to see the late great Ron Silver’s character, Dr. Ron Silver (can’t remember his character’s name). No, she doesn’t go to see why I’ll fast-forward a rape scene in a movie, she goes to see if what is happening to her some kind of psychological issue or what. In between the horror of the rape scenes is a lot of talk, but the talk — at least for me — had my full attention. What also had me at full attention was the way Ron Silver spoke in the film; if you’ve ever seen Silver speak in a film, he has what I guess is best described by Jamie Foxx as “juicy mouth” or actually you know what? It’s the opposite of that. Silver always seems to have a dry mouth in need of moisture, that’s what it sounds like after every sentence. He needs a glass of water or a nice wet kiss to fix that dryness, so how about it, Ron I’M YOUR BOYFRIEND NOW WRRRRRAAAAAA

The writing by Frank De Felitta (based on his book) is of course top notch, but I have to say that it’s the acting that really takes this to the next level beyond mere exploitation (a murky water which the movie does occasionally dip its toes into). Hershey, above all, is fucking phenomenal. She totally sells it as an ordinary woman (albeit one who looks like Barbara Hershey) being forced into an extraordinary situation, and having to maintain her sanity while fearing the possibility that she is losing it, or worse, already lost it or even worse than that — this unexplained phenomena is actually happening to her. Because at least if she’s crazy, she knows she can go get professional help. But how do you explain fucking ghost rape?! There are Oscar-worthy clips throughout her performance, but my favorite is probably after her friend witnesses one of the attacks, telling her she saw it, and the way Hershey keeps responding with “You saw it” and she is so exhausted in every way possible it kinda broke my heart while feeling hope for her situation.

It was like watching a really good play at times, but Furie and cinematographer Stephen H. Burum cinema the shit out of it with their chosen anamorphic 2.35:1 aspect ratio. I’m talking split-diopters and lots of canted angles; I bet this movie was the canted angle champion until Battlefield Earth came in and man-animal’d the title away. And there are scenes that are shot in a manner that I fear is becoming more and more rare; there’s a post-coital conversation between Carla and her boyfriend (played by the late great Alex Rocco, who had worked previously with Hershey on The Stunt Man) and the whole conversation is covered from one angle favoring Carla, slightly behind the boyfriend to where we only see his side profile at most (and even then slightly out-of-focus). Nowadays most movies are shot for the edit; just cover it from every angle and figure it out in post. But this looks like one of those flicks that actually had every angle figured out before hand for maximum effect. In the case of this scene, our attention should be on what Carla is saying and her reactions as well.

I remember reading somewhere that Hershey felt that movie would’ve been better if it focused more on the stuff between Carla and her family and her doctor, which I kinda get. I mean, the last third of the film basically turns into the second half of Poltergeist, which is weird because this movie came out the same year as Poltergeist despite being shot two years before Poltergeist. Poltergeist poltergeist poltergeist ULTRAAA COMBOOOOOOO!!!!! But yeah, as much as I dug the last third, I actually found myself more interested in the more everyday less fantastical stuff (or as ‘less fantastical’ as fucking ghost rape can be considered).

The film plays the “based on a true story” card at the very end, which I’ll have to look up to see how true they kept things, or if it’s like many films based on a true story, in that in both the film and the real events one of the characters had a cup of coffee once. But who knows, it could be all true. And if so, that’s some frightening shit. As is the fact that in one scene in a meeting room full of doctors, they had them all smoking the fuck out of cigarettes, pipes, and cigars as if it were Good Night, and Good Luck. in that motherfucker.

Aside from the applause, I think the ultimate compliment this movie got from the audience was early on when someone in the audience tried to be Mr. Funny Riffer — twice! — and got shushed the fuck up. That shit didn’t happen with any of the other films that night, in fact, it was kinda encouraged, but this was something else and it certainly wasn’t the kind of film to make “funny” comments at the screen.

The fourth film of the night was 1988’s Phantasm II, the sequel to the waking nightmare that was Phantasm, a film about who the fuck knows what except there was a scary tall old man, jawas, and a flying sphere that would bore into its prey’s skull and drain all the blood out. I had seen it before at a midnight show at the New Beverly Cinema and rambled about it on this here blog. My thoughts on it remain the same, so you can just go to this link to read them in full or you can read this here excerpt and get the gist:

The first film felt and looked like a bad dream, an atmosphere that is kinda missing in this one (which feels more like a straight horror flick), but in exchange we have bigger set-pieces, gooier special effects, and most importantly, nudity. I don’t remember anything particularly new added to this film aside from a new type of Flying Killer Ball and some explosions; it’s like Coscarelli was loathe to answer any questions in the first place, if anything, the ratio of Questions Answered to Questions Raised is probably like 1 to 10. He’s more interested in adding more to the characters of Mike and Reggie than he is in explaining to you why the Tall Man is doing what he’s doing.


But I guess that’s part of the fun with this movie; it still manages to entertain you with some pretty awesome shit while remaining coy about What The Fuck Is Going On in this motherfucker. While I missed the nightmare logic of the first film, I still think this sequel is an improvement in overall Good Times. In addition to the creepy and unnerving settings, it’s got some cool action moments and it’s a genuinely scary film at times. I can see re-watching this one anytime I felt like it, while the first one you gotta be in the proper mood to watch (I watched part one around 4 or 5 in the morning and it felt perfect for that time period).

The fifth film of the night was 1981’s college slasher Hell Night, and whaddya know? I saw this one at the New Beverly Cinema (for their all-nighter) and rambled about it as well! Here’s the link and here’s an excerpt:

Anyway, this was one of the better 80’s slasher films, with some creepy moments that I’d rather not spoil…the first half was better than the second half, because it was tighter (there are some scenes involving characters walking through the dark estate that crosses the line from Deliberately Paced to All Right Already, Get To The Fuckin’ Point) and because the characters start pulling stupid Because It Was Written That Way In The Script bullshit during the second half.

And I still feel that way; the second half made me very impatient with how draggy it felt. I figured the filmmakers were padding it out to make a decent running time but the shit’s already 101 minutes. That’s more than enough time.

So on to the sixth film, Frank Henenlotter’s Brain Damage from 1988, a film about a dude who hooks up with a talking creature that will inject him with a most euphoric liquid in exchange for human brains, and whoa, you’ll never guess in a million years what I’m about to tell you — I saw this at another all-nighter — the same one featuring Hell Night! just like this all-nighter — AND I rambled about it too! Link and excerpt:

Keep in mind that I haven’t seen Henenlotter’s latest, Bad Biology, when I say this: Brain Damage is his fuckin’ masterpiece…this flick is pretty awesome in that it’s both gleefully nasty/trashy exploitation and About Something, kinda like old-school Romero; this is really a story about a man throwing his life away on drugs, because the results are the same: he misses out on work, alienates his loved ones, commits serious crime — all in the name of getting another hit from his supplier. Except the drug isn’t heroin or crack being pushed by Superfly, it’s some Windex-looking shit that you inject through back of your neck and the supplier is a talking slimy phallus.


This flick is like a Henenlotter best-of; gross-out gags, gore, comedy, drama, way-too-real seedy New York locations. But it also has a couple things that represent some of his not-so-best qualities, like wide-eyed motherfuckers screaming in only the worst, most shrill manner possible; the first five minutes or so were very tough to take, since they feature some old lady screaming and screaming and screaming in that horrific combo of anguish & annoying (if I only knew what was in store for me in about another couple of hours). So I’d probably watch the first five minutes on Mute, next time. Otherwise, damn good flick.

I actually took the opportunity at the beginning of this film to go move my car closer to the theater, sparing me all that old-people-screaming in the first five minutes or so. This time I wasn’t as, uh, high on this movie this time; maybe it just doesn’t hold up to repeat viewing but compared to how I felt about it last time, I found it to be good but not *that* good, and I’ve noticed that Henenlotter’s films (still haven’t seen Bad Biology) can be kinda depressing for me, even when they’re funny. Your mileage will most likely vary. I think I’d call Frankenhooker his masterpiece nowadays, if only because I don’t feel so down at the end of that one.

Before the last film, Grant came up on stage one last time to give out the remainder of the loot and to give away another action figure. He asked for people in the audience who had a credit score higher than 1000 in their Horrorthon trading card (I forgot which particular one) to come up on stage. I went up along with a bunch of others but I didn’t make the cut, instead it came down to a little boy who cut in front of me in line. I shouldn’t have let that slide, because he was a White kid and is probably going to be used to that privilege times 100, now that we have President Elect Trrrruuuuuuuussoij0f394jpowierjfpwe9fj5poiwerjfow[eijrgpowierWEARETHETHINGSTHATWEREANDSHALLBEAGAINDEADBYDAWNDEADBYDAWNDEADBYDAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWNNNNNNNNNNN………………………………………

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Whoa, hold up. I got it. I’m good. Don’t know what happened there, I saw my eyes starting to roll up in the reflection of this monitor and then my vision went profundo rosso all of a sudden. Almost caught slipping there, sorry. Anyway, he was just a little kid and it’s not like I could pick a fight with him, he’d fucked my shit up big time. But yeah, it came down to a kid and this other dude, and they were tied, but Grant gave it to the dude because the kid already won before and the dude had so many packs of cards, so many! 3 packs cost 10 bucks and I think he had somewhere close to 100 bucks in cards, by the look of that fat stack. Even Grant was kind of flabbergasted by this and knew that he just had to give it to this guy, and so he did.

The seventh and final film of the night/morning was actually supposed to be played earlier but they were having problems setting up the projection, which I think was a DCP or Blu-ray for this one: the 1980 film Humanoids from the Deep, or as it was called on this print, Monster. It stars Doug McClure (who was part of the inspiration for the Troy McClure character on the “The Simpsons” but who I know best as the Mayor from the sitcom “Out of the World”) and Vic Morrow (who was part of the inspiration for irresponsible directors who are into decapitation) and it takes place in a small fishing burg somewhere off the coast of Northern California.

The salmon population is dwindling and that’s making the fishermen get even more upset and drunk, and it might have to do with Big Salmon having moved into town. “Nay nay!” says the Big Corporation, because they are going to open a new cannery that is going to help with business for everybody, they’re gonna have more salmon than you can shake a broken thermometer at! Most of these ol’ beer-drinking salts are super jazzed for this while the Native American community (which apparently is comprised of one Latino actor) is not at all down for it. The success rate for the Natives in stopping this cannery is about par with the success rate of the Natives trying to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Which is to say: Beat it, woo woo feathers. Manifest destiny all day, every day. We took it, it’s ours. #MAGA

When you let Big Salmon do their thing unencumbered by the laws of science or human decency, you end up with these motherfuckers going beyond GMO-ing the salmon and straight into some Tampering In God’s Lo Mein territory. Now there be Mutant Fishmen here, roaming the shore, killing all the dogs (NOOO!), killing the men (eh…) and raping the women (here we go with this shit again). Between this film, The Entity, Devil Fetus, and White Cosby in The Blob, the theme of this year’s Horrorthon appeared to be RAPEITY RAPE RAPE. But I guess, horror and rape go together like peanut butter and jelly, or Polanski and youth.

The story goes that the director of this film, Barbara Peeters, turned in her cut of the film to producer Roger Corman, who thought it needed to be jazzed up. She did not agree, so he got another director to film new moments with gore and forced sex without the original cast & crew’s knowledge, so that must’ve been a very interesting premiere for them.

At 80 minutes including closing credits, it’s not a long film but I kinda wanted it to end the whole time I was watching it. Maybe I prefer the older-school versions of these fuckin’ things, like Horror of Party Beach, or maybe I like the good versions of these things, like Creature from the Black Lagoon. Or maybe I just didn’t care for the whiplash storytelling going back and forth between Rapefish and No Blood for Salmon, where I actually was more into the drama between the pro-cannery fishermen and the anti-cannery fishermen.

Like, that shit was really interesting, how the asshole fishermen don’t like the Injun ’cause he’s getting in the way of their money but You Just Fucking Know there’s also some racial waters boiling in the kettle of their actions. But then we cut away from that and I’d have to see two stupid young people canoodling before some slimy fuck comes in and paws the stupid young man’s face off before inseminating the stupid young lady with stupid mutant fishman jism and I guess I’m supposed to be like FUCK YEAH AWESOME OH BRO MY DICK IS SO FUCKING HARD BRO I don’t know. Kind of the point of the movie, right? Watching sea creatures kill and rape? But try convincing me of that back while I was watching it.

Or maybe I’m just *done* with these kind of movies.

Or maybe I was just tired. I mean, I *was* chowing down my free M&M’s and downing my free Monster Energy Drink at this point.

I know I’m in the minority with this movie (you’ll always be the minority, beaner), which appears to be well-reviewed and received (Leonard Maltin gave it three stars in his book and even appears in the DVD/Blu-ray supplements interviewing Corman, yet he’ll give a dismissive snarky two-sentence BOMB review to David Cronenberg’s faaaaaaaaaarrrrr superior The Brood, the schmuck) I’ll admit that sometimes I’ll get in these temporary moods where I become an Angry Old Man and even reason can’t enter this dojo, and for all I know one day I’ll catch this again at another all-nighter or somewhere else and I’ll be happily chomping on my popcorn open-mouthed like Michael Jackson in the “Thriller” video while digging the ever-lasting fuck out of this movie. Who knows when that will be, if that will ever be.

But as of now, all I’ll think about — if I think about this film — is that around 8:45 – 9:15am that Sunday morning, during the climax where the fishmen attack the village salmon festival, ripping dude’s heads off and grabbing pussy celebrity-style while the biggest asshole of the film (Vic Morrow’s character) actually gets fuckin’ redeemed while other characters I liked got Humanoid’d or exploded and the whole time the same fucking female scream keeps going on in the background on a fucking loop — all that was going through my mind was I Don’t Care.

At least the score by a young James Horner (RIP) was pretty good in that James Horner way. I think I even heard a Blaster Beam here and there.

It was about 9:30am when it was all over. There seemed to be more people sticking around compared to previous Horrorthons, and yet it didn’t seem as messy in the aisles or between seat rows — at least around our area. Some of the people leaving got free vinyl albums of something, but the rest of us ran out towards our vehicles because it was starting to rain and you know how deadly *that* stuff is. But yeah, man, this year’s Horrorthon was Good Times, just like the other Horrorthons. I look forward to number 12 in 2017 — and now I’ve jinxed it, I’m sure. Here’s an album of pics of that night on the Aero Facebook page.

My friend and I went then decided to try out a place called Bru’s Wiffle for breakfast and we both got the fried chicken and waffles. They were OK. You know what else is OK? My phone. In order to finance my Vegas jaunts and Hollywood Bowl visits, something had to get the fuzzy end of the financial lollipop stick and that ended up being my cell phone. So, enjoy this subpar mid-00s quality video of selected Horrorthon giveaway madness. And may God have mercy on us all non-rich/non-white/non-straight people because now we have to deal with Presidennnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnttttttttttttttttowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwjfffffffffffffff,laksfj;aljf;oiajs;oigheroi;jjjjjjjjjjjaklsaaaareferj;askldfjalksjd;lakmcas;lka;sdjfasd

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https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-YUeiF_tEvNYzl4Zy1DUUhqM0k/preview

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

Posted in A Bay of Blood, All Night Horror Show, douchebag, movie marathon, Race with the Devil, ramblings of a loser, Rawhead Rex, Slaughter High, The Horror of Party Beach, Ticks, Twitch of the Death Nerve, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2016 by efcontentment

October 15, 2016

Dear Cathie,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Всего хорошего,

EFC

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

Down to the twenties.

Posted in douchebag, ramblings of a loser, Sully, Uncategorized with tags , , on October 9, 2016 by efcontentment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m like Mulder, man — I Want to Believe.

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

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

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

CANADA GEESE FOE LIFE!

FOE LIFE!

FOE LIFE!

One, definitely. Two, maybe.

Posted in douchebag, ramblings of a loser, Scarface (1983), The Rocketeer, Uncategorized with tags , , , on September 19, 2016 by efcontentment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“AHORA TU!” shouts Hector the Chainsaw-Wielding Colombian.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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