Sunday, January 2, 2011

Fool's Views - 11/1 - 11/28 (with Turkey!)

Guess who's back? Back again. AC's back. Tell a friend...

Sorry guys and ghouls, it's been a crazy time. Trying to free oneself from the shackles of gainful employ proved a challenge only the most dedicated and deluded would attempt, but darned if I wasn't able to finally manage it. But I'll honestly admit I had gone into utter bunker mentality for the final stretch, hence my radio silence on the H101 campus grounds.

Before we welcome 2011 with open arms (and do we ever), I feel an obligation to give the Views of the last two months their day in the sun. Said day will be given over the next four installments, after which AC's 2010 Year End Recap will be unveiled, and then we'll dive back into business as usual. Can I get an amen...or at least a order of nachos?

As always, feel free to throw in your two cents worth - we'll make sure you get some change back.


Dark and Stormy Night (2009)
(1st viewing) d. Blamire, Larry
From the folks who brought us The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra comes this spooking/spoofing of “old dark house” mysteries, complete with secret passageways, wills and testaments of questionable nature, and a wild ensemble of bizarre characters. Heartily hootworthy.

Saw 3D (2010) (1st viewing) d. Greutert, Kevin
While there’s no guarantee that this, the seventh, is the last chapter in the lucrative horror series, it would be nice if it were, as it’s been running on fumes since S4. The best thing I can say is that the “game” subplot is at least marginally engaging (as opposed to the tedium of the previous two installments), with fictitious Jigsaw survivor Sean Patrick Flannery tested via some of the most shamelessly sadistic traps yet. (I was pleased, it must be noted, that the ornate nature has been dialed back just a tad, imaginatively utilizing fishhooks and crazy glue to wreak havoc.) Meanwhile, the main plotline of Costas Mandylor’s Det. Hoffman concludes in a fashion as unspectacular as director Greutert’s use of 3D. RIP, John Kramer…please.

Attack of the Aztec Mummy (1957)
(1st viewing) d. Portillo, Rafael
Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy (1958) (1st viewing) d. Portillo, Rafael
Watched in order to fulfill my Kryptic Army obligations (mummy films were the assignment du mois), the primary novelty of these features is their Mexican origins since they’re just as stale and goofy as any English-language counterparts. Noble archeologists vie against unscrupulous baddies to unravel the secrets of the clothy ones in Attack with the powers of good prevailing, inspiring the naughty villains construct the clunkiest of androids to win the day. Nearly half the latter film’s (the third in the series) running time is comprised of footage from the previous two installments – meaning that watching them consecutively can be an exercise in boredom.

An annual tradion, held the day after Thanksgiving at Chez Kitley. (For a recap of the last seven years, visit

Terror from the Year 5000 (1958) (1st viewing) d. Gurney, Jr., Robert J.
Scientists develop a device that transports objects from the future (sounds like meddling in things that man should leave alone, doesn’t it?), only to discover that once the door is open, you never know who might drop in. A spangly-body-suited femalien, for instance. Directed by Robert J. Gurney, the braintrust behind the interstellar classic, Invasion of the Saucermen.

Reptilicus (1961) (2nd viewing) d. Pink, Sidney W.
Part giant creature on the loose tale…part Copenhagen travelogue, this Danish export features one of my favorite misguided marionette monsters in the history of cinema. Rivaling The Giant Claw’s buzzard puppet for sheer goofyness, this excavated dragonian menace bobs and weaves its way across the countryside, spewing green animated acid with unfettered abandon.

Day Time Ended, The (1980) (1st viewing) d. Cardos, John “Bud”
Gah, more like the “The movie that wouldn’t end.” Despite an amusing stop-motion sequence of tussling claymation aliens and occasional flashing lights, this sci-fi dud starring Jim David and Christopher Mitchum is aptly compared to a 90-minute study of a tranquilized warthog: Interesting for about five minutes, then exhausting for 85.

Monster Dog (1984) (1st viewing) d. Fragasso, Claudio
Shock rocker Alice Cooper stars as…a rock n’ roll star returning to his hometown roots to record a new music video (yes, a plot that would again be explored in 1987’s Rock n’ Roll Nightmare – which we watched last year). Upon arrival, however, he discovers that a pack of killer dogs are menacing the region (who have apparently been hassling folks for the last three decades – does no one call Animal Control in these parts?) Italian director Claudio Fragasso, best known as the director of Troll 2, puts the acting-challenged cast through its logy paces.

Fatal Frames (1996) (1st viewing) d. Festa, Al
The giallo to end all giallos…and the entirety of the Italian film industry. Director Festa pours on all the stylish camera angles, crazy prog-rock music, steamy sex scenes, mysterious black gloved killings, color-filtered dream sequences, red herrings and marble-mouthed sex kittens to be found, but ultimately to his detriment as the 125 minute running time proves to be more gorgonzola than any mortal could consume at a single sitting. Festa’s l’amour Stephanie Stella steals the show through her stunning combo of glandular excess and ill-advised thesping.

Fiend (1980) (1st viewing) d. Dohler, Don
Baltimore backyard filmmaker Don Dohler dazzled us two Turkey Days prior with his low-budget, high enthusiasm monster mash The Alien Factor, so it was with great eagerness that we returned to his CV for this feature (which I had first become aware of via a video compilation entitled Filmgore, hosted by Elvira). Unfortunately, this tale of an alien force which inhabits a moldy corpse to drain the lifeforce from unwitting suburbanites proves to be more blah that bwah-hah-hah. Even with the deliciously dubious acting chops of Dohler regulars Don Leifert and George Stover on board, it’s still a bit of a drag.

Garden of the Dead (1974) (1st viewing) d. Hayes, John
The same year he gave us William Smith and Michael Pataki in Grave of the Vampire, a Blade-like story of a half-breed vampire slayer, director Hayes turned out this short but sweet zombie effort. A chain gang of convicts discover that formaldehyde huffing has some unexpected side effects…like immortality! Yep, a bungled prison break and being mowed down is no match for the resurrecting powers of this wondrous gas. Who knew? Granted, these undead scalawags are far from the mindless Romero rotters, happily slinging axes or shooting rifles at their warm-blooded foes. But trust me, you’ve seen much worse – and longer – zombie flicks.

Cannonball Run, The (1981)
(1st viewing) d. Needham, Hal
Rebounding in fine fashion from the odious cashgrab of Smokey and the Bandit II, director Needham reteamed with star Burt Reynolds to create another car-chase-based comedy, this time based around an anything-goes cross-country race. The comic bits and thrilling stuntwork are superb, but the real treat is seeing the endless parade of cameo appearances, ranging from a young Jackie Chan to an aging Jack Elam and everyone in between.

Inland Empire (2006) (1st viewing) (Lynch, David)
Creepy as Eff, cut from similar nightmare cloth as the more celebrated Mulholland Dr., with Laura Dern turning in a performance that goes all the way.

Kick-Ass (2010) (1st viewing) d. Vaughn, Matthew
Splendidly subversive superhero saga…and Nicolas Cage doesn’t suck.

Last Seduction, The (1994) (2nd viewing) d. Dahl, John
Linda Fiorentino, where did you go? We miss you.

Social Network, The (2010) (1st viewing) d. Fincher, David
Despite the fact that it never really engages on an emotional level, there is no denying the skills on display from all involved, from Fincher’s adroit, non-gimmicky direction to Aaron Sorkin’s blistering dialogue to the pitch perfect ensemble of players. An impressive film, if not a definitively great one.

Unstoppable (2010) (1st viewing) d. Scott, Tony
Denzel. Chris Pine (aka new Captain Kirk guy). Chasing a train. With no brakes. Carrying hazardous materials. Ready…go. Sturdy entertainment, despite effing Tony Scott’s inability to hold his effing camera still for a single effing second. I’m not sure if he has ADD or he thinks the audience does, but the excessive push-ins, swirl-arounds and fly-bys render themselves ineffectual through omnipresence. Chill, dude.

2010 Totals to date: 329 films, 216 1st time views, 230 horrors, 36 cinema

Twilight Zone – 23 episodes (5 hour-long eps, 11 reg) (136 total for 2010)
Monty Python’s Flying Circus – 6 episodes (36 total for 2010)

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