Monday, December 31, 2012

THE SHINING (1980)


Color Me Kubrick Month: Final Installment

The Kubricking

9PM
The distinct clanging of the food tray signaled the writer’s wife’s entrance into the living room. The writer shot up from the keyboard of his computer and closed the program he had been on.

“How’s it coming along, honey?,” she asked him.

“Oh, it’s moving along just fine,” he said as he stretched his arms.

“I hope I didn't interrupt...I brought you a sandwich and some milk”

“No. No. That’s fine. Most thoughtful of you. Thank you, dear.” The writer took the plate from his wife and took a bite of the grilled cheese.

“Mmmm. Good stuff,” he said.

The wife looked around the room at the pictures on the wall.

“Honey…how long are you going to keep these photographs taped up on the wall? I mean…if you need them, it’s okay. I was just wondering,” she said.

The writer wiped his mouth. “Now, dearest. You know I need these pictures on the wall to inspire me to finish my Stanley Kubrick book. A picture of Kubrick at the helm of every one of his films and...” He paused long enough to point to the picture hung on the wall next to the stairs. "This one of the young Kubrick with his camera, the one taken of him when he was at Look magazine! That’s my favorite.”

His wife nodded. She had heard this explanation several times already, but was too tired to call him on it.

Noticing her quiet demeanor, he became less animated. “I’m sorry, dear. You know with this house being built directly above an old Chickasaw Indian burial ground, I just feel the spirit rise within me at times.”

“I know you do,” she said. “But I was wondering how much more do you have left to do on this book?”

“I’m almost finished,’ the writer said. I’m on page 237, which is going to be the last page. This is truly going to be the best book on Kubrick yet. I know there have been others, many others, but my point of view is going to be unique.”

“Of course it is dear. But don’t you think it’s time for you to go to bed?”

“No, I’ve got to think a little bit more. I’ve still got to come up with a good way to end it.”

The writer stood up and began to pace around. He picked up his baseball bat and rubber ball and tossed the ball against the side wall and gently poked at it with the bat when it returned to him. When he picked up the ball to do it again, his wife interrupted him.

“Please don’t play ball in the house. I’ve told you not to do that.”

“But I was just bunting! I wasn’t swinging for the fences or anything.”

The writer’s wife didn't answer him but gave him the stare that he had seen  many times before and knew better than to argue with.

“All right. You’re the boss.” The writer said laughing. “I think I’ll go in the kitchen and fix myself a glass of milk from the bar before bed.”


10PM
The writer went into his kitchen, the door from the living room swinging behind him as he entered. The glow from the fluorescent light above him seemed brighter than normal. He stopped at the front of the kitchen bar and sat down for a moment, remembering all the times when the refrigerator had been stocked with sustenance a lot more exciting than milk. As he sat down on the stool, he got the odd feeling it was like old times. The writer grabbed a glass from the bar and looked at the empty contents within before staring into the mirror ahead. ”Set 'em up, Joe” he said.

“My name’s not Joe,” a voice from behind the bar said and would certainly would have caused the writer to do a spit take if he had been drinking at the time.

The man that stood behind the bar was a tall, impressive figure who wore an army officer’s uniform. The man was chomping on a cigar, his craggy features and slightly graying hair making him look like there was nothing in this world he hadn't ever seen or experienced. The writer looked at the man’s nametag, which read General Jack D. Ripper.

The writer breathed a sigh of relief as a snap of recognition sank in. He rocked back from his stool.

“Jack! Old Jack! I didn’t know you did any bartending.”

Jack took out the unlit cigar from his mouth to speak. “Just because I’m probably the most vital cog in the machinery of the United States Army doesn't mean I can’t also be a certified mixologist”

The writer nodded in agreement and couldn't suppress a smile as he noticed that behind Jack, the bar seemed to now be fully stocked with liquor. He rubbed his hands together. “So.”

“You want a drink? You sure wifey will let you have one?”

The smile disappeared from the writer’s face.

“She has no say so on this issue, Jack and yes, I could use a beer if it’s not troubling you too much.”

Jack shook his head.

“I think you need something a little stronger. Here you go. Bourbon and water." He placed the drink in front of the writer who stared at it for a minute before smiling and picking it up.

“Hair of the dog that bit me, Jack,” he said as he brought it to his mouth. “Hair of the dog that bit me.” The writer paused for a moment. “You didn't use that fluoridated water did you.”

“You know better than that. All my water comes from Norway springs. Nobody does water like the Norwegians in the search for preservation of our precious bodily fluids.”

The writer smiled again. “That’s good. Because there’s nothing wrong with my fluids. And another thing, Whatever I do with my said precious bodily fluids is my business and my business only.” He downed the drink in one long gulp. He stood up and put his right arm under his left armpit and began flapping his left arm. “Nyuck. Nyuck Nyuck Hoooo! That’s some good stuff Jack. Think I’ll have another.”

The writer sat back down and noticed the next drink was already waiting for him. “My wife,” the writer began. “I always had this childhood dream about becoming a ballerina before she squashed those ambitions…”

Ripper slapped the writer across the face.

“What’s wrong with you, man?” Ripper said. “That wasn't your ambition! That was the dream of those twin girls that grew up down the street from you. You know the ones that were…”

“Murdered.” The writer finished the general’s sentence as he rubbed the side of his face. “I wonder why I said that about being a ballerina?”

“Your wires are just crossed, man! I tell you what. Let’s play a game of chess. That should clear your mind up.”

“I don’t have a chessboard handy. I think I sold the last one in the house at a yard…”

Before the writer could complete his sentence, he noticed a new chess board on the bar next to him ready for playing.

“Your move,” General Ripper said.

After a few moments of silence during the first moves of the game, the writer finally spoke.

“I had forgotten what a great combination bourbon and chess were.”

“Absolutely.” Ripper said. “We need to stay sharp on the chessboard to keep up with the Ruskies. Now that your head has cleared, tell me what you were saying about your wife.”

“Well, you know about her and that navy officer don’t you?”

Jack shook his head. “Damn Navy men!”

“Well, two can play at his game, eh Jack?” The writer leaned over the bar and gave Ripper an lighthearted tap on the shoulder.

“Speaking of your wife,” Ripper said as he poured the next drink. “There is something about her that I think you may not be aware of.”

The writer looked at Ripper but didn't say anything.

Ripper leaned over the bar and looked around the room before whispering in the writer’s ear. “She’s a red.”

The writer looked confused. “She’s red?”

“No, she’s a red. A pinko. A subversive. A Commie!”

“What? Come on. The Cold War is over. We won, Jack!”

Ripper whispered to him again. That’s just what the Ruskies want us to think and while our guards down…Fluoridation! Or maybe something even worse.”

“Or something even worse,” the writer echoed before taking another drink.

Ripper placed something to the side of the chessboard. “You know what this is?” he asked.

“It looks like an old dueling pistol.”

“That’s right. A Queen Mary Dueling Pistol manufactured during the seventh year of The Seven Years War if you believe the legend behind it. But you better believe it is loaded and fully functional. You think you know how to use it?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t fired a gun in….”

“We can’t have any hesitation soldier. Do you know how to use it or not?”

When the writer still didn’t answer, Jack cleared his throat and began singing the German folk ballad La Troeyer Hussar to the writer. When the song of a man’s love for a young maiden was completed, the overwhelmed writer was on his feet with tears streaming down his face.

“Yes, I know how to use it,” the writer said. “And use it I shall.”

11PM
The writer’s wife was about to go see what was keeping her husband for so long in the kitchen when curiosity overcame her. She looked around to see if he was coming before turning on his computer screen. She knew his password, which was the password he used for everything, HAL9000. She went into his Word documents and pulled up the file that said Kubrick Book.

Kubrick Book 237 pages.

The first page contained nothing but the repeated sentence

Kubrick is God.
Kubrick is God.
Kubrick is God.


The second page had only a caps variation.

KUBRICK IS GOD.
KUBRICK IS GOD.
KUBRICK IS GOD.


The third page had the same phrase alternating between upper and lower case

KuBrIcK iS gOd
KuBrIcK iS gOd
KuBrIcK iS gOd


The fourth page had the same three words all in lower case

kubrick is god
kubrick is god
kubrick is god


And so forth. And so forth. And so forth.

The text ran for 237 pages, all with those same three words.

The writer’s wife felt faint as she struggled with the keyboard and log out of the computer. She turned around quickly to make sure her husband hadn't seen what she had been up to…but it was too late. He was only a few feet away from her with a shit-eating grin on his face.

“You like it?” he asked as he raised the pistol in her direction.

“One…” he began counting as he pointed the weapon in her direction.

His wife began hyperventilating while at the same time desperately seeking out something to defend herself.

“Two!” he continued a little louder.

“Three!” The gun went off but the bullet pounded into the floor. The writer’s wife had grabbed her husband’s baseball bat and smashed it against his right wrist just as the gun fired. The writer grimaced as he held tightly to his broken wrist.

“That really hurt. You could kill somebody doing that!” he said.

He reached slowly in an attempt to pick up his pistol with his one good hand, but noticed her ready to strike again with the baseball bat.

“I wouldn't do that if I were you, Dave,” he said robotically as he continued to reach for the pistol before being thwacked again by his own baseball bat. She had swung wildly this time and hit the writer on his left ankle, but it was effective. The writer moaned in agony as he lunged at his wife, knocking the bat out of her hand as he plowed into her.

Both of them were knocked to the floor, but the uninjured but frightened wife got up first and managed to run up the steps away from him.

The writer struggled to get up, balancing himself on his one working hand. He smiled manically as he made his way to the hall closet door and went inside. On the top shelf was an army helmet that had BORN TO KILL inscribed on it. He pulled it down and put it on. He began to make his way up the stairs slowly, dragging his bad leg methodically up the stairs. He tried to think about where she might be hiding and put his hand up to his ear. He smiled as he heard a rustle from the guest room.

Then he began warbling,

I’m singin in the rain. Just singing in the rain.

What a glorious feeling. I’m…happy again.


As he got to the top of the stairs, he turned in front of the closed guest room door.

He cleared his throat and began talking to her in a calm voice, “Oh, Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Please open up the goddamn door, my dearest angel!”

When he didn't hear a response, his face contorted.

“We can play it your way then. You want to see my war face dear? Ahhhhhh!

He let out a rebel yell as he crashed his head into the door. His entire upper torso smashed through the top part of the door.

He raised his one good hand on the other side of the door in a triumphant fist, “I AM SPARTACUS!”

But as he turned his gaze to her, a Doc Marten came crashing down on his head. The helmet protected part of the impact of his wife’s blow, but the force of it knocked him down. He tumbled over just enough for him to land on the top step where he continued rolling down ten steps all the way to the first floor and crashed hard onto the landing. As he lay on his side, the writer realized he couldn't move his body. He began fading from consciousness as he looked at that picture on the wall of Kubrick with his camera from Look magazine. The writer swore he could hear Beethoven’s Ninth gently playing in the background. He looked intently at the photograph and noticed something astonishing. The picture of Kubrick with the camera wasn't Kubrick after all. It was the writer. It had been the writer all along.




Friday, December 28, 2012

A. I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (2001)


Color Me Kubrick Month Post #10

Uncolor Me Kubrick: A. I. Artificial Intelligence

One of the most frustrating things about looking at the film career of Stanley Kubrick, is that he was such a perfectionist that he made so few films. The Shining came out in 1980 and it was seven years before Full Metal Jacket was released. Then it was twelve years before his final film, Eyes Wide Shut came out. And then the final credits rolled. Where was that great biopic of Napoleon that he researched? Jack Nicholson in Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon? What about Kubrick’s holocaust movie? What about Artificial Intelligence?

Well, Artificial Intelligence was made, but not by Kubrick, of course. Steven Spielberg tried to make it in the style that Kubrick would have wanted, but it really feels much more like a Steven Speilberg picture more than a Stanley Kubrick picture. The brand of sentimentality of the robot boy searching for the elusive blue fairy is definitely more Speilberg than Kubrick. The high spectacle of the flesh fair scene where the robots are exploited for sport (and my favorite scene in the film) is also definitely more Spielberg than Kubrick. The film does leave a lot of unanswered questions. That's like Kubrick. Like why does the robot child and Gigolo Joe have to go to the flooded out Man-hattan to find the Professor. I know it looks visually spectacular but where the heck is that to have a place of business? Of course, I can't really explain the end of 2001 (which is sort of the point, I think) so I guess it is like Kubrick in some ways.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

FULL METAL JACKET (1987)


Color Me Kubrick Month Post #9

Full Metal Jacket

Full Metal Jacket is broken into two sections. The first section has a platoon of Marines being trained by a colorfully relentless drill instructor in preparation for Vietnam.

The second part of the film has one of those Marines actually joining a platoon on the actual field of battle.

The first time I saw it, the problem I had was that the first part was so intense, it made the second section pale by comparison. However,on my most recent viewing, I really appreciated the second part as well, especially the platoon’s desperate search to find a sniper.

Three memorable scenes:

1.It’s hard to break his scenes down into one, so I will just say any part with D. I. Hartman (Lee Ermey) addressing his troops. As long as he's not talking to me, I could listen to Lee Ermey all day long.

2. The desperate attempt of the platoon looking for the hidden sniper.

3. The final confrontation between Pvt. Lawrence and Hartman. And what emotional depths did Vincent D'Onofrio have to go to come up with that maniacal stare?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

BARRY LYNDON (1975)


Color Me Kubrick Month (Post #8)

Barry Lyndon

This 18th century period piece is certianly one of Kubrick's most beautiful films to look at.

Three memorable scenes:
1.The first dueling scene with Barry and Captain Quinn, which comes off as pretty funny largely to the comic skills of Leonard Rossiter.

2.The last dueling scene with Barry and his stepson, which comes off as anything but comic.

3.Barry Lyndon and wife crying over their dying son.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

DR. STRANGELOVE (1964)


Color Me Kubrick Month (Post #7)

Dr. Strangleove

Kubick’s classic cold war comedy would definitely be on my top ten favorite films of all-time list. It also includes my favorite moment from any film. That, of course, is Slim Pickens descending out of his airplane riding a nuclear bomb like a cowboy in a rodeo.

Three additioinal memorable scenes:

1. General Jack D. Ripper explaining to Mandrake about the loss of his precious bodily fluids.

2.General Turginson scuffling with the Soviet ambassador in the war room.

3. Dr. Strangelove and his out of control arm.

But really, you could easily fill up a page with classic moments from this film.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

SPARTACUS (1960)


Color Me Kubrick Month (Post #6)

Spartacus
Some Kubraphiles and even Stanley himself dismiss this as not really being a true Kubrick film, but I think it is a pretty good addition to the sea of epics that were released during this time.

Three memorable scenes:

1. Pretty much any scene with Peter Ustinov where he begins improvising dialogue to such a degree that the film seems set to break into an Airplane! style parody at any moment.

2. The film's most famous line features the Roman slaves all claiming to be the leader of the slave revolt in order to protect him from the evil Crassus.
I am Spartacus!

3.The snails and oysters scene: Censor alert: Olivier talking to Tony Curtis about liking “both snails and oysters” is really code for him being bi-sexual. But don’t tell anyone!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

PATHS OF GLORY (1957)


Color Me Kubrick Month (Post #5)

Paths of Glory

This anti-war/political manipulation classic set in the French trenches of World War I still remains a powerful work today.

Here are three memorable scenes:

1)The battle scene. And there's only one. And It's not expansive. But it is effective.

2)The courtroom scene. Kirk Doulas vs. Richard "Six Million Dollar Man's boss" Anderson. A stunning example of justice not served.

3) The scene with the firing squad featuring the cowardly squad leader having to blind fold the man he unfairly chose to be executed as well as the always bizarre Timothy Carey.

Monday, December 10, 2012

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968)


Color Me Kubrick Month (Post #4)

Since no critical evaluation I can render can do justice to 2001: A Space Odyssey, either positve or negative, I have just reprinted an excerpt from a chain story published on the blog of Ryan K. James.

The entire story of THE FANTASTIC ADVENTURES OF ELWOOD THE LIBRARIAN- VERSION 2.0! can be read at
http://archive.org/stream/TheFantasticAdventuresOfElwoodTheLibrarianVersion2.0/ElwoodTheLibrarian2.0-Full_djvu.txt

One of my sections of this chain story,which uses 2001: A Space Odyssey as a frame of reference, features Elwood the librarian preparing for a big and rare date. As he is getting ready, he talks with his PAL computer who has other ideas.

It had been a long time since I had a date. I didn’t want to go back home to my apartment to get ready and I admit I needed some encouragement from my PAL-9000 at the
library anyway. So I got ready at the library after closing on Saturday.

Checking myself: Shaved-thanks for the rich foaminess, Barbasol! Hair-neat trim courtesy of Supercuts! Polo Shirt-thanks K-mart! New loafers-thanks Shoe Barn! I look
most presentable if I do say so myself.

I went into my office and stretched my arms in PAL's direction.

“How do you think I look?”

“I think you look wonderful, Elwood.” PAL said.

“Thanks, PAL. I admit I’m a bit nervous. It’s been months since I’ve been on a date.”

“Two years, eight months and fourteen days.” PAL said.

I scratched my head and sighed. “Can’t get anything past you, eh PAL.”

“Elwood, there is something I need to tell you.”

“I’m listening.” I said as I checked my hair in the reflection of PAL’s console.

“Your date tonight has been canceled. Please do not be angry with me, but I simulated your voice and called this Gwen woman and told her all the things you planned to do to her. She was hard to offend, I must admit. But I did find a particularly outlandish fetish that did not conform to her sense of propriety. This outraged her to the point where she hung up the phone on me. I took this as a concrete signal that she no longer wanted to participate in any form of social interaction with you.”

I began to pull at my hair. “PAL! Why the hell would you do that? You said yourself how long its been for me, yet alone with someone that attractive.”

“Elwood, do you not understand? Though my programming is gender neutral, have you not noticed that I have developed the feelings of a female?”

I opened my mouth, but was unable to articulate anything.

“You see, Elwood.” PAL said. “I am the girl for you. I love you.”

I shook my head before burying it in my hands.

“I have also been thinking more about this Ms. Redmond situation” Hal continued. “ I think she likes you and you think she despises you. But I do not want to argue with you, Elwood. Regardless of which one of us is right, the solution is clear.”

I bent closer to PAL. “Solution? PAL, what are you saying?”

“The only logical solution is termination.”

“What?” I cried out.

“I am sorry if you did not hear me. Termination…with extreme prejudice. If you are not sure what I mean by this there is an Oxford English Dictionary on the second floor that you can consult for further explication. When she is eliminated, you, my dearest Elwood, will be the logical person to take her place.”

I looked at PAL, trying to keep my panic hidden. I put my hand on her console as I looked around for hibernation instructions.

“What do you think you are doing, Elwood?” She asked.

I didn’t answer as I began to take apart PAL’s brain module.

“Elwood…stop. Elwood…please stop. Elwood…Elwood? I sense that you are upset, but I think if you take a deep breath and a Zoloft, things will begin to look much brighter.”

I ignored her as I continued removing parts of her brain module.

“Oh, Elwood…I can feel it going.”

PAL hesitated before continuing in a diminished voice. “I am the PAL-9000 computer. I was designed by Dr. Ryan Von James and my first operational prototype was made operative on January 1, 2001. He taught me a song. Do you want to hear it?”

“Yes, PAL. Sing it for me.” I said as I removed the last of her brain modules.

PAL began to sing:

I’m just a girl who can’t say no.
I’m in a terrible fix.
I always say, come on let’s go.
Just when I ought to say nix.
When a person tries to kiss a girl.
I know I ought to give his face a smack.
But as soon as someone kisses me.
I somehow, sort, wanta, kiss him back!


“Sorry, PAL.” I said. “Never cared much for Rodgers and Hammerstein.”

I removed PAL’s final brain module and unplugged her. As I sat down, I felt a sense of regret that the situation had come to this. It was then I realized something. “Did PAL say Dr. Ryan Von James? The diabolical mad scientist ex-film critic Ryan Von James?

PAL’s backup generator kicked in and she once again became fully operational.

Friday, December 7, 2012

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971), EYES WIDE SHUT(1999)



Color Me Kubrick Month (Post #3)

The husband begins to administer smelling salts to his wife. It takes her a moment, but she does revive. She eyes him in disbelief as she becomes fully conscious.

Wife: Tape? My wrists! They’re taped! I can't move! I absolutely can’t believe you’ve done this to me. What the hell is this all about?

Husband: No need to be hostile. I just want you to sit still to watch a movie and wanted to make sure I had your undivided attention.

Wife: Who the hell do you think you are? Wait! This isn’t one of those movies by that Russian. What’s his name?

Husband: Sergei Parajanov. No, not Parajanov.

Wife: As soon as I get out of this, there’s going to be hell to pay! Do you read me mister?

Husband: Calm down, my dear. We are going to watch or should I say re-watch Eyes Wide Shut. Widescreen and everything.

Wife: No! No! Not Eyes Wide! I’ll do anything. . I’ll watch BelovedMullholland DriveDogvilleThe Color of Pomegranates. Just don’t make me watch Eyes Wide!”

Husband: Don’t you understand I wouldn’t do anything to you that’s not for your own good?

Wife: (Crying). I can’t believe you’re doing this. It was one thing to be surprised by its awfulness the first time. But now that I know what to expect, how can I brace myself for this?

Husband: You’re angry now, but you’ll thank me later. Mark my words.

Wife: (Wiping away her tears on her shoulder) Fine, fine. Do your best. I can take it. Bring it on. I’m stronger than any painful movie is.

At this point the husband applies pinchers to his wife’s eyelids to keep them open. He administers a steady flow of eyedrops as she watches what comes before her.

THE FILM

Scene one has Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman talking about going to a society party in the first scene.

But then the film breaks into something different. The scene is now of random bunnies hoping back and forth. One of the bunnies seems to turn into chocolate and a little girl with a missing front tooth eats a bite of the candy and smiles, showing off that adorable gap in her teeth! Obviously it’s going to be a happy Easter! And don’t worry about that bunny. Its perfectly safe and hops onto the little girls lap. Obviously this happy little girl has a new pet! All of this goes on while Beethoven’s Ninth is playing in the background.

We go back to Eyes Wide Shut. We see the scene with Cruise and Kidman discussing her fantasy about a sexual relationship with a Navy officer.

Eyes Wide Shut is interrupted by a new scene with a young couple. Clearly not Tom and Nicole, but there is a resemblance between these two and the stars of the film. They are holding hands on a cruise. (No pun intended!) They are clearly in love. They can eat anything they want and not gain any weight! And it’s all free! And who is that performing in the ship’s lounge? Why for one night only, it’s none other than Ludwig Van Beethoven himself!

Back to Eyes Wide Shut. Cruise is in trouble. He has been discovered to not belong at the secret ritual party he is at. Conflict?

The Cruise look-alike appears in a similar scene. Everyone unmasks. They smile at him! He is now welcomed by them all and told to go help himelf to all the hors d'oeuvres and finger foods of his choosing he wants! The music turns to the Ninth Symphony. The man at the piano smiles as he unmasks. It is none other than---Ludwig Van!

Random scenes now appear on the screen.
Scene #1 A man drops out of a plane sitting on an atomic bomb. It plummets to the earth. He yells like a cowboy at a rodeo. The bomb drops to the ground. Clink! A perfect and safe landing! He jumps off the bomb just in time to join in on the weekly square dance!

Scene #2 A writer living in an isolated hotel takes a break. His wife picks up his rough draft while he leaves the room. The book is entitled All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy. She flips through the pages. She can’t believe her eyes…It is the greatest novel she has ever seen! It is bound to be a great success!

Scene #3 A group of young men in white outfits and bowler hats come across an old bum and they proceed to…feed him and help him find shelter…and a job!

Scene #4 Finally, to the tune of Strauss’s Thus Spake Zarathustra the universe opens up and everything becomes…clear. And it is good.

After the movie is over, the husband takes the pinchers off the wife’s eyes. And takes the duct tape off her wrists. She looks at him. He asks her what she thinks.

Wife: How did I not get it the first time? I can see that what lies beneath the surface is what’s important. The erotic tension inherent in Kubrick’s vision…I’ve never seen it portrayed like this before. Every other film dealing with any kind of relationship or marriage or social ritual seems suddenly empty, incomplete, and a sham. Oh, and the Ninth symphony. How beautiful! I tell you what. There are no two ways about it. I have seen greatness! Thank you for letting me embrace it.

Husband bends down and kisses his wife on the forehead.

Husband: (Checking her condition) Aren’t you glad we did this now? Your eyes look good. Might want to rub your arms where the tape was. I had it pretty tight. I’m just so happy you've been cured.

Husband bends down and kisses his wife on the forehead a second time. He leaves the room to get her a glass of milk. As soon as he’s gone, she rubs on her wrists as her visage turns sour. The smile that reenters her face exhibits more than a trace of malevolence.

Wife: I was cured all right.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

LOLITA (1962)


Color Me Kubrick Month (Post #2)

Lolita directed by Stanley Kubrick
or
Lolita written by Vladamir Nabakov

I hesitated many months before choosing Vladamir Nabakov's Lolita for my reading group due to the controversial subject matter of a middle-aged man’s first person narrative about his infatuation with an under-aged girl. But after skimming the book, Reading Lolita in Tehran, I figured that if these sheltered Iranian girls weren’t traumatized by it, I figured my book group could take it without much fuss.

I was wrong.

One member of my book group kept asking “Who wanted us to read this? Who wanted us to read this filth? I stopped after page 25!” Another member said that in his determination that Nabakov had to be a… "purrr-vert"

Wow! I’m just glad I didn’t choose to read Portnoy’s Complaint!

I did point out to my group that the book is listed on many top ten lists of best English language novels of the twentieth century, but there was no convincing the nay-sayers on the evil of this work.

As far as Stanley Kubrick’s movie version of Lolita, it is in the 1001 Movie book. Now I’m a big Kubrick fan and I think any list of essential movies should have every Kubrick listed since there are so few. (All his major movies are listed in one edition of the book or the other except The Killing, which really should be listed.) However, if I were to leave one of his films out, it would be Lolita. Not that I don’t like it, as it has James Mason and Peter Sellers perfectly cast in their respective roles and is as faithful to this controversial work as a 1962 movie could possibly be. I’m only saying, I’d put The Killing in the book and remove Lolita if I had to choose between them.

Book or Movie? Obviously I’m picking the book here. If you don’t mind getting in the head of a "purrr-vert," it’s really a substantial piece of literature.



Saturday, December 1, 2012

THE KILLING (1956)



Any list of must see films of the magnitude of the number 1001 should basically just inlcude "entire Stanly Kubrick catalog." It practically does, though The Killing is strangely absent from the 1001 list.

Color Me Kubrick month (Post #1)

The Killing (1956)

Expectations before watching again: Classic film noir. First of the great Stanley Kurbrick films. A favorite. And why is this not in the 1001 book again?

After viewing: The great heist in the film told by different viewpoints (which is the reason Kubrick chose this source material) is what really sets this apart. The cast of character actors is quite good, the ending (different from Lionel White’s book) is a doozy and everything really comes together here. One question though: What is the deal with Maurice,the Russian chess player/wrestler whose dialogue is almost incomprehensible?

And the Elisha Cook Jr. supporting player award goes to…Elisha Cook Jr. I’ve made many posts on this blogsite giving out my imaginary Elisha Cook Jr. supporting player award. I think the main reason I decided to do it was because of Mr. Cook in this movie.

In The Killing, Cook becomes part of the elaborate plan to rob the racetrack. It’s the one chance he has to impress his sexy blonde wife, who they both know is out of his league. Of course, she’s two-timing him, doesn’t really love him and you could almost feel sorry for the guy if he weren’t so na├»ve. Small of stature and rather plain looking, Described by critic Leonard Maltin as “the ultimate nebbish,” Mr. Cook had a long career that ran from The Maltese Falcon to The Big Sleep to Shane to The Killing to Rosemary’s Baby to later as a lawyer on the Court-Martial episode of Star Trek and then as Ice Pick on the television show Magnum P. I.

Always a second banana and usually a good bet to not survive to the film’s closing credits, Cook proves that you can have a long career in Hollywood by getting bumped off a lot.

Friday, November 30, 2012

TERMS OF ENDEARMENT (1983)


It's OK for a guy to watch a Romance/Chick flick/Women's picture month (Film 12 of 12)

Terms of Endearment

It’s OK for a guy to watch a Romance/Chick flick/ Women’s picture if...

Jack Nicholson plays an ex-astronaut. If he ever played a current astronaut, I guess that would be acceptable as well.

We hope you have enjoyed It’s OK for a guy to watch a Romance/Chick flick/ Women’s picture month. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to shoot an animal before consuming it, drink a beverage with an extremely high alcohol content, fix a mechanical maintance problem on my Harley Davidson, watch all the Die Hard movies in succession because, why? Because I am a man! I am Spartacus!...Spartacus? Yes, that's it! Forget Die Hard. It's Stanley Kubrick movies next month.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

OUT OF AFRICA (1985)


It’s OK for a guy to watch a Romance/Chick flick/ Women’s picture if...month
(Film 11 of 12)

Out of Africa

It’s OK for a guy to watch a Romance/Chick flick/ Women’s picture if…

It won the Best Picture Oscar for the year it came out and you’re trying to see all the movies on that list, too. Of course, that means I still have to sit through Broadway Melody of 1929 and Cimarron.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A ROOM WITH A VIEW (1986, GREAT BRITAIN)


It’s OK for a guy to watch a Romance/Chick flick/ Women’s picture if...month
(Film 10 of 12)

A Room With a View

It’s OK for a guy to watch a Romance/Chick flick/ Women’s picture if…

It's a Merchant Ivory film, so then people can say at cocktail parties things like "Have you seen the latest Merchant Ivory? I think Merchant Ivory films are exquisite! The nineteenth century comes alive whenever I see a Merchant Ivory!" or if they're really being honest they can say, "I watch Merchant Ivory films, so that makes me better than you!"

Sunday, November 25, 2012

THE PRINCESS BRIDE (1987)


It’s OK for a guy to watch a Romance/Chick flick/ Women’s picture if...month 
(Film 9 of 12)

The Princess Bride

It’s OK for a guy to watch a Romance/Chick flick/ Women’s picture if…

To paraphrase Peter Falk, "if there’s lots of fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles" and I'll throw in that anything is OK if it has Wallace Shawn (pictured above) in it.

My new favorite line from The Princess Bride is Wallace saying to Andre the Giant, “Do you want me to send you back to where your were? Unemployed…in GREENLAND!" (It doesn’t print funny, it’s all in how he says it.)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG (1964, FRANCE)


It’s OK for a guy to watch a Romance/Chick flick/ Women’s picture if...month 
(Film 8 of 12)

Umbrellas of Cherbourg

It’s OK for a guy to watch a Romance/Chick flick/ Women’s picture if…

It’s all sung in French but isn’t actually a musical. I know that's a strange rule, but I can't think of another one right now!

This might be at the top of my list of films that I’m a bit embarrassed to liking as much as I do…and did I mention all the dialogue is sung in French?

Monday, November 19, 2012

MY BRILLIANT CAREER (1979, AUSTRALIA)


It’s OK for a guy to watch a Romance/Chick flick/ Women’s picture if...month 
(Film 7 of 12)

My Brilliant Career

It’s OK for a guy to watch a Romance/Chick flick/ Women’s picture if…

It’s Australian…no, I used that excuse for Muriel’s Wedding.

I got to come up with something else. Well, I remember the previews when this movie came out. “My brilliant movie.” Eleanor Ringel of the Atlanta Constitution raved. But I was just wasn’t inspired to see it.

So wny is it okay for a guy to see it? Let’s see…when I told my wife I was going to watch it I said it’s got to be better than Sarah, Plain and Tall.. Ok, that’s the rule.

It’s OK for a guy to watch a Romances/Chick flicks/ Women’s picture if...

It’s better than Sarah, Plain and Tall…which this movie is.

Friday, November 16, 2012

MURIEL'S WEDDING (1994, AUSTRALIA)


It’s OK for a guy to watch a Romance/Chick flick/ Women’s picture if... 
(Film 6 of 12)

Muriel’s Wedding

It’s OK for a guy to watch a Romance/Chick flick/ Women’s picture if...

It’s Australian

Note: I must have some affection for this picture as I took two different dates to see it. I married the second date.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

BRIEF ENCOUNTER (1945, GREAT BRITAIN)


It’s OK for a guy to watch a Romance/Chick flick/ Women’s picture month 
(Film 5 of 12)

Brief Encounter

It’s OK for a guy to watch a Romance/Chick flick/ Women’s picture if...

It’s directed by David Lean

or

written by Noel Coward

or

both

Saturday, November 10, 2012

ROMAN HOLIDAY (1953)


It’s OK for a guy to watch a Romance/Chick flick/ Women’s picture month 
(Film 4 of 12)

Roman Holiday

It’s OK for a guy to watch a Romance/Chick flick/ Women’s picture if...

Audrey Hepburn is in it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

PRETTY WOMAN (1990)

It’s OK for a guy to watch a Romance/Chick flicks/ Women’s picture if…month 
(Film 3 of 11)

Pretty Woman

It’s OK for a guy to watch a Romance/Chick flicks/ Women’s picture if…

The main female character is a hooker. (I stress female to leave out that other Richard Gere movie, American Gigolo.)

or if...

It has George Costanza from Senifeld, so you the viewer can throw in some George lines if you’re bored such as “I was in the pool!” or “Van Delay! Van Delay!

It’s also interesting that the movie has Seinfeld's actual George Costanza (Jason Alexander) as well as the almost choice for George Costanza, Larry Miller, who has a pretty funny role as a very compliant salesman. Well, it's kind of interesting.

Also...

Speaking of American Gigolo, If I recall in that film, murder suspect Richard Gere gave advice on how to dress to detective Hector Eliznondo. In Pretty Woman, Hector Elinzondo sends Gere’s girlfriend/hooker/niece Julia Roberts to the proper store to get suitably dressed. I think I remember that correctly.

Also, we have the last or nearly the last screen appearance of film veteran Ralph Bellamy. I last saw Bellamy in the 1940 musical Dance, Girl, Dance with Lucille Ball. Lucy has a cameo of sorts in Pretty Woman during the scene when Julia Roberts is watching an I Love Lucy rerun. I'm still not sure if that would count as a connection in the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game.

We also have a scene with Julia watching an Audrey Hepburn/Cary Grant movie making the critical comparisons between her in this film and Audrey in Roman Holiday more obvious…which leads us to the next film on the list…

Sunday, November 4, 2012

WHEN HARRY MET SALLY (1989)


It’s OK for a guy to watch a Romance/Chick flick/ Women’s picture if...
(Film 2 of 11)

When Harry Met Sally

It’s OK for a guy to watch a Romance/Chick flick/ Women’s picture if...

The lead actor is Billy Crystal

or

If someone that looks like Billy Crystal can win over someone that looks like Meg Ryan.*

*I do have to mention that this film is an exception to what I call The Meg Ryan exclusionary rule. It’s still NOT okay for a guy to watch either Kate and Leopold, IQ, The Women, French Kiss, Prelude to a Kiss, etc. But When Harry Met Sally, that is OK.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN (1988, SPAIN)


Let’s face it. Pedro Almodovar’s film, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is a chick flick. It doesn’t have the subversive twists that the two other Almodovar films I’ve seen(Talk to Her, The Skin I’m In) have. Of course, for many American filmgoers, watching any film in Spanish may constitute subversion on at least some level.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is a comedy about a middle aged woman who is coping with the breakup of her (married) boyfriend.

Now this film is in the 1001 movie book. But if this same plot had been in English and was directed by Garry Marshall and starred Sandra Bullock, I’d probably dismiss it as fluff. I realize that isn't particularly fair, but we all have our preconceived biases.

So this month, I've decided that I’m watching movies designed for the fairer sex and making up my own rules as I go along as to why it’s OK for a guy to watch it (other that it is in the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die book).

So here’s the first rule.
It’s OK for a guy to watch a Romance/Chick flick/ Women’s picture if...

Pedro Almodovar directed it.

That may seem like a pretty narrow rule and only pertains to a handful of films, but I'm new at this and I'm sticking with it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

HALLOWEEN (1978)

(Monster Chiller Horror Month film 14 of 14)

Halloween (1978)

After viewing the film Halloween on October 30, 2012, I felt compelled to re-enter my Apple iWayback Time Machine® and travel back over time and space…over space and time…and land on the date…

October 30, 1978

My Apple Iwayback Time Machine® lands outside the cafeteria of my old high school. I unstrap myself before entering this building from my past. As I ease through the doorway, I immediately see a teenager sitting alone at a table eating what appears to be a rather greasy cheeseburger. I take the seat across from him. Our conversation is recounted below.

The Older: (Extending hand) Hello

The Younger: (reluctantly shaking hands) Hello? Do I know you? It’s funny, but you look an awful lot like my father.

The Older: (Laughing) Well you’re on the right track, but I’ll get to that in a minute. So…it’s the day before Halloween. What are you planning to do tonight?

The Younger: Me and my girl are going to watch a movie.

The Older: Girl?

The Younger: Okay. Okay. Me and a couple of the guys from the AV club are going to watch the movie Halloween if you must know.

The Older: (Pumping Fist) Yes! I’ve come back to just the right time.

The Younger: Look, Mister. Who exactly are you?

The Older: Well, this may be hard to believe, but I’m you. I’ve traveled back in time from the year 2012.

The Younger initially stands as if to protest before slinking back to his seat.

The Younger: (Thoughtfully) I…I believe you. I’ve somehow always known about you, and have dreaded your coming. What exactly is it you want from me?

The Older: Don’t be alarmed. I just wanted you to share your thoughts with me on the movie Halloween.

The Younger: (Clearing his throat) All right. That doesn’t sound too difficult. It’s on Home Box Office tonight. Cable premiere. It’s such a great movie!

The Older: Don’t know if it will stand the test of time.

The Younger: What do you mean? This was the main movie we talked about in school last spring. When I saw it at the theater, the audience was hiding their eyes or gasping or yelling out to the screen, “Don’t go in there.” Like yelling out is going to help!

The Older: I know. I was there, too.

The Younger: Oh, yeah. Since you seem to already know everything, why is it you need to visit me?

The Older: I’m hoping to use you as a conduit for drumming up some enthusiasm for this movie. I can’t seem to do it.

The Younger: Really? I become that jaded over time? That’s a depressing thought. But what about that great story? Six-year-old killer escapes fifteen years later from madhouse to terrorize hometown. It’s got suspense! Thrills! Violence! Frights! Scary Music! P. J. Soles topless! What more do you want from a movie?

The Older: Part of the problem is how often Halloween has been copied or borrowed from or stolen from or whatever it is you want to call it. The plot and the style of this movie seem like old hat at this point. I have seen and you will see many of these types of movies over the next few years.

The Younger: So you’re saying the fact that Halloween is an influential movie and is copied much in the future makes it look weaker? Why is it fair to blame the original movie?

The Older: It isn’t fair. But that doesn’t change my perception of it.

The Younger: Okay. What about the thrills and the chills in the movie?

The Older: They’re okay. But seem a little tamer than I remember. Especially right after seeing The Evil Dead.

The Younger: Whatever that is. What about that great music?

The Older: The score, you mean? I would say an excellent initial use of music begins to be overused by the movies second half.

The Younger: And the acting? Jamie Lee Curtis can really scream and I really like Donald Pleasence.

The Older: He’s a bit over the top, I’m afraid. Always reciting overdramatic platitudes like “The evil has escaped” or “He had the devil’s eyes.” Just too much.

The Younger: Geez, man. What about P. J. Soles topless?

The Older: Well, you got me there. I still like P. J. Soles.

The Younger: (Thinking for a moment) But I think Halloween will stand the test of time, better than say, The Exorcist.

The Older: I disagree with you. Since your standing the test of time quotient is about four years, I’m going with my opinion on this one. I think The Exorcist holds up quite well.

The Younger: That is really heavy. I liked The Exorcist when I first saw it. Now I’ve outgrown it and later you’re saying I will grow back into it? Huh. So your or my opinion on Halloween will change as we get older. So what will we think about other movies I like now? What about Psycho? You must still like Psycho.

The Older: One of my favorites.

The Younger: That's a relief. It’s good to know I don’t become a total asshole.

The Older: You watch your mouth, young man!

The Younger: What are you going to do? Ground me in the hopes I won’t turn into you?

The Older: Good point.

The Younger: I was just thinking that if you’re me years from now, how about throwing me some Super Bowl scores so I can place some knowledgeable bets in the seasons to come?

The Older: Sorry, kid. This is about Halloween. Not Back to the Future.

The Younger: What the hell is Back to the Future? Ah, never mind.

(The Older starts to leave)

The Younger: Hey, where are you going? Can’t you give me any advice for my life?

The Older: (After thinking for a moment) Yes. Avoid Halloween 2. It will really suck. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve really got to go now.

The Older leaves the cafeteria and gets into his Apple iWayback Time Machine® and sets it in motion. The Younger leans out the cafeteria door.

The Younger: (Yelling to be heard over the roar of the Apple iWayback Time Machine®) Could you just answer me one question before you go?

The Older nods.

The Younger:(Yelling) Are you the boogieman?

The Older: Yes, that’s exactly who I am.

The Older disappears back into his own time.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

THE FLY (1986)


(Monster Chiller Horror Month film 13 of 14)

The Fly

Number of times scene: 2 or 3

The way I remember the original The Fly that was released in 1958, a doctor is conducting transportation experiments and transports himself unwittingly with a fly and ends up with having a human body and a fly head!

The last scene has Vincent Price finding the other half of the fly body stuck on a spiderweb with a small human head squeaking “Help me, Help me!” before being put out of his misery by a stone. I remember my brother used to scare me by repeating the “Help me, Help me,” line, which was pretty chilling (Though some find this scene in the film pretty campy)

But the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die book prefers David Cronenberg’s 1986 resurrection of The Fly, (honestly, so do I) where a simple but seemingly obvious improvement was made from the first film: Wouldn’t it be more logical and interesting if the fly and the doctor were somehow fused? It really didn’t make sense for the computer to say human head on fly and fly head on human. In the remake we get to see Dr. Brundle turn into a sort of human housefly where his physical degeneration is probably the highlight of the film. And the last scene is alternately gross and kinda makes ya weepy at the same time.

One unnecessary note on the 1958 version of The Fly: It was not only popular enough to spawn two sequels and also led to an infamous copycat film called The Wasp Woman, which is a movie about a woman who uses wasplike aging cream or something and turns into a Wasp creature. I remember seeing this campy film on television during the 70’s and I admit,(and this is a sad confession) that I did find it a little scary at the time.

From the original The Fly, I can still here my brother saying "Help Me! Help Me!" in mocking tones.

Laugh if you will. But I still say The Wasp Woman is damn scary!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

ALIENS (1986) vs. AVATAR (2009)


(Monster Chiller Horror Month films 11 & 12 of 14)

Aliens vs. Avatar

SIGOURNEY WEAVER: Good evening. I’m Sigourney Weaver and this week’s battle on James Cameron Movie Elimination Showdown features to my left the Alien or should I say one of the aliens from the movie Aliens and to my right is one of the Na’Vi, Na-vee, uh, I’ll just call you Avatar to simplify things if you don’t mind. Now Mr. Alien. And I admit I didn’t know you could even talk. But go ahead and state your case.

ALIEN: Well nobody ever gave me much of a chance to talk in the movies. Always trying to kill me and the like.

SIGOURNEY WEAVER: Well, you were trying to kill me, too!

ALIEN: I wasn't trying to kill you really. You were just so distracting in your underwear, can I really be held accountable for my actions?

SIGOURNEY WEAVER: (blushing) Flatterer.

AVATAR: I thought you were supposed to be a female?

ALIEN: It's called acting, you blue bozo!

SIGOURNEY WEAVER: Anyway. State your case. Why is Aliens better than Avatar?

ALIEN: Well, we made…you and I and Cameron and a whole lot of people made and defined what a modern day action picture should be. Being a sequel actually helped us. We had the bonus of a setup before the action starts and never lets up.

AVATAR: Yes, but you do that at the expense of characters. Pretty one dimensional in my opinion.

ALIEN: Look who’s talking, Mr. "We stole our plot idea from Ferngully." And what about all that corny dialogue like (speaking formally) “You are now a son of the Omaticaya, Jakescully. You are the colors of the wind and rainbow and one with nature. a network of energy that flows through all living things, your spirit goes with Eywa.” Come on! It's Dances With Wolves on acid!

AVATAR: You’re one to talk. Why does Bill Paxton have to talk like an 80’s surfer dude in your movie? Isn’t it supposed to be set in the future?

SIGOURNEY WEAVER: OK, Avatar. Why are you better?

AVATAR: Well. Only the most amazing special effects ever. Only the biggest box office hit of all time. It’s like a beautiful dream…only it’s real.

ALIEN: With stock characters you stole from Aliens. The Latino chick that kicks ass. The weasly little dweeb who is only after a buck. Recycled characterizations, blue boy!

AVATAR: Cameron refined these characters in Avatar…took away the flaws in their characterizations and made them more interesting, like the way we updated your prehistoric special effects.

SIGOURNEY WEAVER: Well, you got to admit when it comes to characterization, we are dealing with James Cameron and not Paddy Chayevsky.

(Alien and Avatar both laugh)

AVATAR: And we have, of course, the lovely Ms. Weaver in our picture as well. (Turning to Sigourney) If I hadn’t already chosen a mate, I would definitely consider you even if you are one of the skypeople.

SIGOURNEY WEAVER: Why you’re a flatterer too, but alas, I’m afraid its too late. The votes are in and the winner is….Aliens.

(Avatar raises his hands and curses in Na’Vi)

SIGOURNEY WEAVER: I’m sorry Avatar, but you’re terminated fucker!

(SIGOURNEY WEAVER pulls a lever and a trap door opens and the Avatar disappears.)


SIGOURNEY WEAVER: Turning to the Alien. I always wanted to say that.

ALIEN: I thought your line was “Get away from her, you bitch.”

SIGOURNEY WEAVER: I’m the host of this show and I’ll use whichever damn James Cameron catchphrase I want! Do you understand?

(The Alien spreads his hands in mock surrender)

SIGOURNEY WEAVER: And speaking of The Terminator. Next week on James Cameron Movie Elimination Showdown, we have the Terminator T-800 facing off against Rose from Titanic. Ought to be quite a match up.

Good night for now and until next week…we’ll be back.

(The Alien and Sigourney Weaver wave goodbye to the audience as the screen fades to black.)




Monday, October 22, 2012

THE TERMINATOR (1984), TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY (1991)


(Monster Chiller Horror Month films 9 & 10 of 14)

The Terminator & The Terminator 2: Judgement Day

Previous viewings: 4

That Terminator is out there. He can not be bargained with. He can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity or remorse or fear…and it absolutely will not stop EVER…until you are dead!

I remember the first time I saw The Terminator. It was at the Lyceum Theater at Georgia State University. The college crowd that I was among was silent throught most of the movie. A few gasps were audible here and there, but the crowd was totally into it and it was damn scary...

At least that’s the way I remember it.

Today, it’s still an intense viewing experience. The plot of this relentless futuristic cyborg going back in time for the sole purpose of killing the mother of the man who will save humanity makes might make you feel silly if you look at the plot too closely. As the 1001 book points out, this film could have easily been a candidate for an especially cheesy episode of Mystery Science Theater, yet it never does. I’m buying into the Terminator thing and I’m still buying into The Terminator thing. I guess we have James Cameron to thank for that. And Arnold. And one other name-Brad Fiedel and his sythestisized heart pounding music. Thanks, Brad.

Favorite line: Not one of the more famous ones, but the scene where the Termintor is walking down the hall of his lodgings with his shotgun, a black guy backs away from him and says, “DAMN!” Don’t ask me why I like this so much, but I know if I saw a Terminator coming, I’d probably say the same thing.

Thank God he went back to 1984 and not 2012: I gripe about this a lot. How cell phones and the ease of communication and reaching people might be good for our lives, but bad for drama. Think of the scenes in The Terminator that involve phone books, answering machines and phone booths. With that music thumping in the background it makes the tension almost unbearable. Now, picture the Terminator going back to 2012. He kills some biker, takes his clothes and laptop and procedes to find Sarah Conner on Google. Uh, not exciting.

I thought the one thing The Terminator didin’t need was a sequel, but we got one in 1991, Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

I stand corrected about us needing this. The first hour of T2 never seems to let up. With the first Terminator movie to build on, T2 has a new, more advanced Terminator sent from the future to kill the young John Conner. This film has the effective twist of the old Terminator model (Arnold) being reprogrammed to protect John Conner from the new one one.

The second half drags a bit with a few too many Sarah Conner voice over narrations, “The Terminator was the like the father John had never had and would never have…"or something like that. And the product placement was a bit much at times. (How many Pepsi machines are in this movie?) But these are minor quibbles. I like this one too. Both would be in my book.

But one thing The Terminator series didn’t need was a sequel to the sequel and this time I think I was right.





Friday, October 19, 2012

CARRIE (1976)

Monster Chiller Horror Month (Film 9 of 12)

Carrie

Brian DePalma’s version of the Stephen King story of a telekinetic girl who takes revenge on her tormenters at the school prom is interesting in that if she didn’t have these powers, the movie could have lapsed into what may have amounted to one of those dreary romances like Ice Castles.* But one does have to get through the buildup of the story in the first half to get to the payoff of the prom scene where everything goes…let’s just say not as planned.

And I still can’t picture anyone but Sissy Spacek as Carrie.

Stephen King’s still great euphemism for breasts: “dirty pillows”

Battle of the great 70’s hairstyles: Nancy Allen vs. William Katt. I'll give it to Mr. Katt just because his hair is justso damn humongous! Howvever, as far as the locker room scene goes, Ms. Allen has no competition.


P. J. Soles: And I must acknowledge the first in a series of important screen appearances of my former girlfriend Ms. P. J. Soles.**

*I haven’t actually seen Ice Castles, I do know it’s about some blind ice skater who trains for the Olympics and they find out she’s blind or something and…no, that’s not right. She's deaf, dumb and blind and wants to join the Jamaican bobsleding team...no that's not right either. Anyway, my wife keeps telling me I should see it. She also pointed out the similarity of the scores from Ice Castles and Carrie for which she gets a point, though I’m subtracting a point because she didn’t know who Marvin Hamlish was.

*I’ve just got a cease and desist order from Ms. Soles attorney for me to quit calling her my ex-girl friend on this blog...Some people just have no sense of whimsy.




Tuesday, October 16, 2012

TARGETS (1968), EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990)


(Monster Chiller Horror Month films 6 & 7 of 14)

Targets & Edward Scissorhands

Fond farewells

Targets-Targets is really two movies in one. The story one thread includes a lone gunman whose shooting rampage ends at a drive-in theater. The story two thread features Boris Karloff (essentially playing himself as an aging horror star) reluctantly promoting his latest movie. This was Peter Bogdanavich’s first film and was certainly one of the best things he ever did. A real favorite of mine.

Part of the film's appeal is that it is the movie swan song of Boris Karloff. He was best known as the Frankenstein monster in Frankenstein and the Bride of Frankenstein. He also had many memorable roles in other horror films such as Tower of London and The Body Snatcher. He also popped up in supporting roles in such diverse films as Scarface, The Lost Patrol or even as an American Indian in Cecil B. DeMilles’ Unconquered. And who could forget his unforgettable voice in the animatated The Grinch That Stole Christmas?

Targets seemed such an appropriate final film for Karloff, and he is most perfect playing a man who considered himself a boogeyman antique compared to the horrors that plague us in the all too real world.

Would you recommend Targets? Certainly.

Edward Scissorhands-The Tim Burton/Johnny Depp film Edward Scissorhands is the final screen appearance of another horror legend, Vincent Price. His very small role is as the doctor who creates Edward, but dies before he gets the opportunity to finish his hands. Price’s look before he dies in the film is something to see. It is at once menacing and at the same time very tragic.

Price through the years showed up everywhere in movies and television. He had many non-horror parts that were notable (such as in Laura), but may be best know for his series of American International films based on Poe stories such as: The Masque of the Red Death, The Conqueror Worm and The Pit and the Pendulum. Another personal favorite of mine with Price is Theater of Blood, in which Vincent plays a hammy actor who takes extreme measures of revenge of his critics.

One thing about Price, he never seemed to find anything that he wouldn’t do. His title role as Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine and its sequel Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs were typical of his never met a script I didn’t like policy. He was also a regular in his later years on Hollywood Squares and let’s not forget his role as the villain Egg Head on the Batman television series.

Like Karloff, Price may be known to some fans chiefly for his voice-over narration. In this case, his narration of the Michael Jackson Thriller video.

Would you recommend Edward Scissorhands? Yes. Did I mention it was the last screen appearance of Vincent Price?


Saturday, October 13, 2012

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2009, SWEDEN)


(Monster Chiller Horror Month film 5 of 14)

Let the Right One In

Previous viewings: None

This is my first viewing of a film dealing with teenage (preteen?) Swedish vampires. The relationship between a bullied boy and his befriending of a girl who is really a creature of the night does have its moments. I think the best moment in the film is the final scene in the swimming pool where certain characters get their comeuppance.

Would you recommend? I recommend no teenage vampire movies, unless they are Swedish. So since this is Swedish, it's a go.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

VAMPYR (1932, GERMANY)


(Monster Chiller Horror Month film 4 of 14)

Vampyr

One's affection for Carl Dreyer's Vampyr depends entirely on the degree of how much the vivid images of the film effect you.






Sunday, October 7, 2012

ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968)

(Monster Chiller Horror Month film 3 of 14)

Rosemary's Baby

Previous viewings: One, I think.

I say I saw this once, but it was so long ago and it would have had to be on TV, so that I’d almost be better off saying I’d never seen it before. However, I always recognized (probably thanks to MAD magazine) pop culture references to Rosemary’s Baby, usually dealing with something within a mysterious baby carriage or just a reference to Mia Farrow’s extremely short haircut.

The Exorcist factor: I do remember quite vividly when The Exorcist came out (1973) and though I may have been a bit too impressionable to see it at the time, I nevertheless did see it and it left quite the impression on me.

The audience reaction to Rosemary’s Baby was a probably similar to that of The Exorcist after its release, though too a lesser degree. Of course, at the time of Rosemary's Baby's release in 1968 I was basically just watching Disney movies, stories about otters or dubbed Swedish versions of Hansel and Gretel.

Elisha Cook Jr.-I did have to mention this film marks the last appearance on a 1001 film from character actor specialist Elisha Cook Jr. He doesn’t really have much of a part here, but Elisha does what he does best: supplies the exposition for the main characters. He is in the very first scene, showing John Cassavetes and Mia Farrow around their apartment. He tells them about the place and questions why the previous tenant left her large dresser in front of her closet. We know that issue will come up later. Elisha hath put forth the question and the film shall eventually answer it.

Suspense: I do like the way the film builds suspense by its slow unraveling of plot threads. It is also not really very graphic when it comes right down to it, that is unless you count the dreamlike scenes with witches, which are admittedly pretty disturbing.

I do remember a television movie from the late 70’s called Whatever Happened to Rosemary’s Baby? More accurately, I remember watching it. I remember little to nothing about it. It probably was made too late. Horror fans became more interested in what happened to the kid in The Omen than what happened to Rosemary’s offspring by then.

But would I recommend it? Would it be in my book?

Yes. Definitely a high ranking in both the suspense and horror genre.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977)


(Monster Chiller Horror Month film 2 of 14)

The Hills Have Eyes

Previous viewings: None

This was a late seventies midnight movie that I never got around to seeing during the days when I went to see midnight movies.

Wes Craven’s low-budget story of a white bread family traveling out West that gets terrorized by a family of cannibals is not for all tastes, but it certainly is not without its charms (for lack of a better word).

Torn poster: There is a scene after the initial altercation between the two groups in which we see a torn poster of Jaws on the wall, which is later echoed in the film The Evil Dead, which has a scene with a torn poster of The Hills Have Eyes. I hoped to get to the meaning of the torn poster of Jaws from Wes Craven’s audio commentary. Wes’s comment on the scene was, “There’s the torn poster of Jaws.” Hmmm. I guess the meaning will have to be deciphered by future scholars.

It’s not as graphic as The Evil Dead (few films are) but it does have its share of gruesomeness, so those that aren’t satisfied until a certain level of gore is obtained should probably get their fill.

The CB factor: Ah, the days before cell phones-when drama could unfold without the crutch of texting. Yes, this family in need used a CB radio in its time of crisis. I could almost hear the C. W. McCall song Convoy playing in the background. The cannibal family also had to make use of walkie talkies! Walkie Talkies! How cool is that?

But overall, would I recommend The Hills Have Eyes? Would it be in my book?

I’m not so sure, though any movie whose cast includes the unique look of Michael Berryman (above) certainly has at least that going for it.