Sunday, May 8, 2016

Fool's Views (4/1 – 4/30)



How do you, my friends?

Apologies for the delay in posting the April Views. My plan was to catch up on them during my overseas flight to Barcelona where I am currently serving on crew for the Enlightened Warrior Training Camp. However, as fate would have it, my international travels were equipped with a ton of in-flight flickers that I had more than a passing interest in, and so, instead of scribbling about the films I’d already seen that month, I decided to pack another quartet in. Such is the fate of the Obsessive/Compulsive Cinephile.

Speaking of the OCC, a goodly portion of the films consumed this month were spent in the company of Oshkosh blood brother John Pata who had come down to Chicago to catch Green Room on the big screen during its opening weekend… only to find out that “opening weekend” only included New York and L.A. I mean, come ON, what the hell???? Still, we made the most of it, tucking into five films on Saturday in the cinema and then another five at Chez AC for the monthly Share the Scare session. (Yep, four for four so far this year, with May’s date already penciled in.)

The impromptu Jason Bateman mini-festival was the result of my growing appreciation for the Arrested Development star, who knocked me out last year with his dramatic performance in the wildly underappreciated 2012 effort, Disconnect. Well, a random viewing of Bad Words – his directorial debut – during an out-of-town friend’s visit sparked my scouring of the public library shelves and Netflix offerings. I won’t say that JB has the most diverse of thespian skill sets, but when he’s in his zone, there’s no one who does what he does quite like he does. (Joel Edgerton somehow popped up in three movies as well, but that was unintentional, so he doesn’t get his own heading.)

As always, please feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.

Enjoy!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Fool's Views (3/1 - 3/31)



Greetings, my friends!

Well, March came in like a muthah and left like a muthah, with a wide array of flickers watched in her wake. Even managed to get out to the cinema on five separate occasions and – here’s the weird part – I only saw a single movie on each of those five occasions. Usually it’s the other way around, five movies in one movie trip. Ah well, the times, they are a changin’. (Don’t you believe it.)

But in addition to the rampant big screening, I was also sampling more of the Netflix wares, although I must admit that even at the deal of $10/month, I still feel like I could see a better, wider variety (for free) from Ye Olde Publicke Library. NF streaming definitely has a few hard-to-find gems, but for my consumption these days, I just have to wonder if I couldn’t go back to pocketing that ten-spot and buy a monthly foot-long burrito instead.

Especially since the horror screeners continued unabated, to the point where I openly admit I’m not even close to keeping up anymore. Thanks to Arrow, Shout! Factory, and Vinegar Syndrome for their continued excellent and output, and know that I’m doing my best to shovel ‘em into my eyes and pound out something coherent on the keyboard in a timely manner.

On that note, enough of the preamble and on with the ramble. As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.

Enjoy!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Fool's Views (2/1 – 2/29)



Hello there!

The shorter the month, the fewer the Views, if one were to believe the tale of the tape. And really, why wouldn’t you believe the tape? I mean, what has the tape ever done to you to deserve your mistrust? Then again, physical media is a dying form and it might just be trying to impress you by telling you what you want to hear. I mean, you’re reading this so-called tale of the tape on the INTERNET, for crying out loud.

But I digress.

February was actually a dynamite month for movies, with more hits than misses, and many of them viewed in the company of fellow fiends and friends – in fact, in looking at the titles below, I think I only watched one of them alone-ish (the femalien was popping in and out of Unfriended), while the rest were shared with one or more others. Perhaps this is the true meaning of Christmas, Charlie Brown, when you don’t have to watch something like The Sinful Dwarf or Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood by your lonesome.

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Fool's Views (1/1 - 1/31)



Howdy, folks,

So, it’s been a slow-ish start to the new year, especially in terms of longer reviews, but I’m okay with this if you are. January’s Views consisted primarily of Share the Scares with my fellow Chicago blood brothers, working through the SAG Award nominee screeners, chill time with the femalien, and a couple trips to the local library; while nothing really blew my doors off, there were definitely some high points amidst the hype.

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.

Enjoy!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Civilian 2015 Wrap-Up and Year-End Stats!


I've always been a firm believer in building up suspense, he said in response to the inevitable question, "What the hell took so long to post the second half of the year-end recap????"

Anyway, here's the rest of the goods from 2015. Didn't spend much time at the cineplex this year, so I can't say that this really reflects the state of The Year That Was, but then again, maybe it does, seeing as how I wasn't all that drawn to seek out the latest shiny new objects. Or maybe that just says more about me.

As before, all titles listed were encountered for the first time from January 1 to December 31, 2015 (i.e. no repeat viewings were eligible), with top picks denoted with an asterisk. (*)



TOP CIVILIAN RELEASES OF 2015


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Dr. AC's 2015 Horror Wrap-up Extravaganza!


"Yuuu vill... keep vatching... de movies. Even venn dey suuuuuuuck."

Howdy folks,

Well, here we are again, 16 years into the 2000s, and still no apocalypse. The moving pictures keep moving, the grid is still intact, and people keep reading these silly slices of inanity, so I guess we gotta keep doing these year-end wrap-ups until the pitchforked mobs tell us otherwise.

HE MUST BE STOPPED, I TELL YOU!!!!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

AXE (aka LISA, LISA) (1974) Blu-ray Review



Axe (aka Lisa, Lisa) (1974) d. Frederick R. Friedel (USA)

After beating a former partner to death and sending his male lover out of a high rise window, three desperate criminals flee the city to lay low for a while until the heat blows over. Steele (Jack Canon), the leader of the bunch, Lomax (Ray Green), the ruthless muscle, and Billy (writer/director Friedel), the clearly conflicted newbie, finally decide to roost at an out-of-the-way farmhouse, inhabited by a young woman, Lisa (Leslie Lee), and her mute, invalid, unnamed grandfather (Douglas Powers). The thugs proceed to bully and boss their way into the house and make themselves part of the “family,” with Steele and Lomax clearly creating unsavory designs for their beautiful, unwilling hostess. But beneath a meek exterior, Lisa’s still waters run deep and dangerous, with a knack for utilizing sharp implements when the occasion calls for it.


Monday, January 4, 2016

Fool's Views (12/1 – 12/31)


"Can we invite some girls next year?"

And that is that is that.

The end of the year wrapped up with an array of Blu-ray reviews and a few trips to the civilian cineplexes for “must-see” viewing purposes (i.e. must see before someone spoils it for you because, well, the internet and holiday parties). Several of the last month’s views will be making an appearance on the year-end wrap-up, although perhaps not the ones you’d expect. See you with that hot mess in a day or two.

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

NIGHTMARES (1983) Blu-ray Review



Nightmares (1983) d. Joseph Sargent (USA)

Like most compendiums, this throwback to the portmanteau heyday of the early ’70s (and likely trying to recreate the windfall of 1982’s Creepshow) hits a mix of high and low points, emerging as an engaging slice of ’80s genre entertainment. Originally conceived as a television pilot for Universal, the studio apparently wasn’t willing to pony up the cash to launch the series, whereupon the surprising decision was made to give it a theatrical release. After enjoying moderate success in hardtops, an equally successful run on home video followed, and it now emerges on Blu-ray courtesy of Shout! Factory.


Monday, December 28, 2015

Fool's Views (11/1 – 11/30)


Digging our way out...

Howdy folks!

I had such good intentions to renew the normal Fool’s Views regimen once the October Challenge concluded, seeing as how I’d built up a good routine and knew I wouldn’t be watching as many movies. Unfortunately, the fact that I wasn’t taking in as many Views made it all too easy to become complacent and there were the added pressures of beginning my personal training practice to factor in. But mostly, it just comes down to a growing lack of interest in putting butt to chair in the service of spilling words about the moving image. There are others out there doing it better, with greater skill and consistency, and I find I’m less and less concerned with consuming flicks with the ardor of days gone by. The sound you’re hearing may be the final tolling of the FV and H101 bells. We shall see what 2016 has in store.

In the meantime, here are the November Views (only a month late), which included a retrospective of NYC filmmaker Larry Fessenden (thanks to Shout! Factory’s recent box set), a little Bond, and a whole lotta Turkey. As it should be.

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.

Enjoy!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE (1962) Blu-ray Review



The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1962) d. Joseph Green (USA)

Brash young surgeon Bill Cortner (TV mainstay Jason Evers, billed as Herb at the time), having developed a serum that keeps human tissue alive even after being separated from the body, decides to run off with his fiancée’s head (Virginia Leith) following a tragic auto accident. He props it up in his out-of-the-way country lab for safekeeping until he can find another host body (preferably a hot rockin’ one) to stick it back on, hitting up various strippers (blonde Bonnie Sharie, brunette Paula Maurice) and models (Adele Lamont) along the way.


Saturday, December 26, 2015

THUNDERCRACK! (1975) Blu-ray Review



Thundercrack! (1975) d. Curt McDowell (USA)

“Seeking shelter from a torrential downpour, a parade of hedonistic drifters, sexual deviants, circus animals, and grieving widows co-mingle at a lonesome farmhouse, sharing stories and bodily fluids until sunrise.” At first glance, what makes Thundercrack! different from your everyday, run-of-the-mill “stranded strangers assembled in a mysterious, out-of-the-way abode on a dark and stormy night” yarn is the fact that there are extensive scenes of hardcore sex liberally sprinkled throughout the proceedings. However, that is only the first of McDowell’s singular offering’s distinctions in the annals of horror – its 2.5 hour running time will put off your average genre (and/or porno) fan, not to mention its unmitigated weirdness and stark, shadowy black-and-white cinematography. But for the adventurous student of outsider cinema, this is a challenge worth accepting – I guarantee you have never seen anything like this before.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

THE CAR (1977) Blu-ray Review



The Car (1977) d. Elliot Silverstein (USA)

Sandwiched between Duel and Christine in the annals of “Hell on Wheels” comes this hoot about a driverless chop-top black sedan menacing the inhabitants of a small Utah township. An ill wind blows whenever it approaches, tipping us off that this, my friends, is one B-A-D motorscooter. From its yellow-tinted behind-the-wheel POV shots, we watch the vicious vehicle mow down bicyclists and pedestrians, hide in garages, and even blast through houses while local motorcycle-riding sheriff Wade Parent (James Brolin) furrows and furrows his brow.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

GHOST STORY (1981) Blu-ray Review



Ghost Story (1981) d. John Irvin (USA)

In the quiet New England down of Milburn, a quartet of elderly men stir fitfully in their sleep. These are the members of The Chowder Society, and they harbor a dark, decades-old secret… one that comes bubbling to the surface as the winter nights grow shorter. When mayor Ed Wanderly’s (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) son dies in a strange accident, a tragic chain of events is set in motion, one that threatens the lives of his now-aged childhood chums Sears (John Houseman), Ricky (Fred Astaire), and John (Melvyn Douglas), as well as his surviving offspring Don (poufy-haired Craig Wasson). The rising ghosts of past wrongs have come home to Milburn, and the time has come to tell the tale....


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

BLOOD AND LACE (1971) Blu-ray Review



Blood and Lace (1971) d. Philip Gilbert (USA)

After her loose-morals mother is brutally murdered in bed with an, ahem, customer, 17-year-old Ellie Masters (Melody Patterson) becomes a ward of the state and is sent to live at Deere Youth Home, an orphanage run by the stern and strange Mrs. Deere (Gloria Grahame) with assistance from resident slimeball handyman Tom Kredge (Len Lesser). There is concern on the part of detective Calvin Carruthers (Vic Tayback) that the claw-hammer killer may still be after Ellie, fearing that she might have witnessed the crime, but one gets the impression that our local dick may have a more prurient interest than simply preventing future criminal behavior. And speaking of crime, we quickly learn that Mrs Deere isn't above torturing and killing her underage residents, holding them on ice to keep the government checks rolling in!


Friday, November 13, 2015

THE LAST WINTER (2006) Blu-ray Review



The Last Winter (2006) d. Larry Fessenden (USA)

An unscrupulous American oil company, hell-bent on drilling into the fragile Alaskan tundra, hires renowned environmentalist James Hoffman (James LeGros) to supervise and (hopefully) endorse their efforts. When the "greenie" takes a little long for comfort and profit margins (due to increasingly erratic temperature fluctuations), company man Ed Pollack (Ron Perlman) is dispatched to expedite matters, specifically to get the ice roads approved so that heavy equipment can be brought in. Camp leader Abby Sellers (Connie Britton) is caught in the middle, involved in a romance with Hoffman but intent on getting the project up and running. Just as the imminent war of wills begins its opening salvos, a supernatural presence begins to exert itself over the health and sanity of the various skeleton crew members on site, including resident mechanic Motor (Kevin Corrigan), Pollack's nephew Maxwell (Zach Gilford), cook Joanne (Dawn Russell), go-to guy Lee (Pato Hoffmann), and tech assistant Elliot (Jamie Harrold). Is Nature rebelling against its most potent enemy at long last?


Thursday, November 12, 2015

HABIT (1995) Blu-ray Review



Habit (1995) d. Larry Fessenden (USA)

The vampire of legend is eternal, and its cinematic brethren are equally durable and widespread. Even before the post-millennial pop culture phenomena of Twilight and True Blood (among others) but especially in their wake, it’s refreshing and rewarding to encounter an undead feature possessing a genuinely grounded and unique interpretation. As writer/director Fessenden’s Habit (alongside George Romero’s Martin, Abel Ferrara’s The Addiction and Michael Almereyda’s Nadja) shows, it’s not just about bringing the vampire into contemporary settings; since the 1930s, the silver screen has hosted an array of “modern” bloodsuckers preying upon hip and sensible disbelievers. What’s often missing is a true sense of personality, vision and passion, and it is here that Habit delivers with both barrels.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

WENDIGO (2001) Blu-ray Review



Wendigo (2001) d. Larry Fessenden (USA)

Commercial photographer George (Jake Weber), his psychologist wife Kim (Patricia Clarkson), and their young son Miles (Erik Per Sullivan) head up to the Catskills for a winter weekend getaway, but the trip is temporarily sidelined when a wounded deer stumbles into their path. When the dust settles, the animal is dead and their car stuck in a snowdrift, while the hunters hot on its trail emerge from the woods none-too-pleased to discover their quarry damaged by the collision. The most antagonistic of these, Otis (John Speredakos), speaks exclusively in sneers and veiled threats, and while the family escape the situation unscathed, the incident casts an ominous pall over their arrival at the cabin and the rest of the evening. The next day, Miles encounters a strange Native American gentlemen (Lloyd Oxendine) in town who, after giving him a wooden totem of the legendary Wendigo, a "hungry, angry woodland spirit," promptly disappears. A tragic sledding accident follows, setting in motion a series of (possibly supernatural) events that will forever change the face of the young family.


Saturday, November 7, 2015

NO TELLING (1991) Blu-ray Review



No Telling (1991) d. Larry Fessenden (USA)

Experimental electro-biologist Geoffrey (Stephen Ramsey), hoping to develop a patent for his ethically questionable animal research, heads upstate with his artist bride Lillian (Miriam Healy-Louie) to their government-sponsored farmhouse. Settling into the small-knit agricultural community presents its own challenges for the urban couple, but more disturbing is Geoffrey’s fervent devotion to create “life” in his laboratory – cue vivisections of all creatures great, small, and furry – as opposed to planting seeds within his wife’s fertile body. Enter handsome environmental activist Alex Vine (David Van Tieghem) providing Lillian with a kind presence, receptive ear, and ample temptation, and the stage is set for violence emotional and physical, animal and human.


Monday, November 2, 2015

SCARE-A-THON 2015 FINAL RESULTS!!



EAT. YOUR. VEGETABLES.


And so, friends and fiends, we arrive on the other side of another glorious OCTOBER HORROR MOVIE CHALLENGE. I won’t lie, this year lived up to its name, and will probably mark the last time I reach for the triple digits. As enjoyable as the binging can be, both in terms of revisiting old favorites and exploring new terrain, the task at hand often means that other tasks at hand get shorter shrift. There was a moment about a week in where I considered revising my stated goal of 100 films, but ultimately decided that it was worth pushing on through, because this year’s causes were worthy of the strain (on mind as well as eyes).

I’m thrilled to report that through our combined efforts, we managed to raise nearly $3000 for PLANNED PARENTHOOD and CHICAGO’S GREENHOUSE SHELTER. Thanks to everyone who participated, whether it be reading the reviews, pledging, watching alongside, or just stopping by to chat. Your support makes the long days and nights go by so much easier. I’ll be contacting donors directly via email, but if you are still interested in contributing, contact me at drach101@gmail.com and we’ll get you to the right place.

Below are the final statistics, as well as links to each day’s respective reviews. Hope you enjoy the walk down memory lane, dark and dangerous as it might be. As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.

Enjoy!

CHALLENGE STATS:

Total Movies Watched: 100
Total First Time Views: 34
Scare-A-Thon Donations: $2930.00

BONUS STATS: