Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fool's Views (2/6 - 2/12)

Ah, gentle friends, gather ye ‘round while I spin tales of the journeys mine eyes have seen…

In other words, AC’s back with some more blithering blathering, y’all. The Views erred a bit more on the non-horror side this time around, although there was plenty of wild and woolly viddying and the term “civilian” deserves its quotations when one realizes that this is far from your everyday multiplex fodder. Nay, it was babes behind bars and narcissism run amok, Soviet sci-fi and satiric biopics. But while the horror menu was slim, it was prime…as you shall see.

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



Things (1989)
(1st viewing) d. Jordan, Andrew
Seriously, there are no words to describe the astonishing transcendent awfulness of this Canadian DIY Super-8/16mm feature. Fellow cinematic adventurer Dave Kosanke and I both looked at each other when it was over and said, "I can safely say I've never seen anything like that before. And that's saying something." Absolutely one of the worst-produced films ever to see legit release, and yet, so completely ineptly terrible on every single level that you just can't stop watching. It’s as close to a waking nightmare as you can imagine, where a sort of internal illogic takes over. Why is that guy taking off his coat and putting it in the freezer? Why are those guys just talking calmly while that bloody bug is crawling out of his wife's belly? Why does it sound like everyone is dubbed twice? Why is porn star Amber Lynn playing a (clothed) TV news reporter who seems to have omniscient knowledge about the events within this little Nova Scotia house when it's happening right now and there is no one else around? Does it not bother anyone that she's clearly looking five feet offscreen to read her lines? These and many other questions will confound your synapses for the 95 minutes it takes to realize director Jordan and lead actor Barry Gillis’ screenplay’s hazy vision, but by the end there will only be a sense of great accomplishment and the profound realization of having ventured where very few can claim to have gone. You’ve seen some THINGS

Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship & Videotape (2010) (1st viewing) d. West, Jake
Extraordinary documentary about the feverish political climate in early 1980s England which resulted in the criminalization of owning or distributing any one of 72 horror and exploitation film titles dubbed as “video nasties,” capable of debauching and polluting the free-thinking minds of anyone who might encounter them. West collects a wonderful array of talking heads to weigh in on the matter, most of whom understandably boggle at the absurdity of a democratic political body that would agree to such measures, although there are also a few who staunchly believe that they acted for the good of their fellow man. Remember, my friends, this ACTUALLY HAPPENED, and it wasn’t all that long ago. Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.


Hollywood Boulevard (1976)
(1st viewing) d. Arkush, Allan/Dante, Joe
When they were but young turks at the Corman factory, co-directors Arkush and Dante assembled a game cast and a whole lot of recycled footage to crank out this inordinately inexpensive (reportedly shot in 10 days on a $60,000 budget) and wildly entertaining send-up of the exploitation film industry. Following hopeful starlet Candice Rialson as she attempts to break into the biz, viewers are treated to women in cages, roads of rages, popping tops and big-blam-booms… mostly from previous Corman features (thinly disguised as Miracle Pictures – “If it’s a good movie, it’s a Miracle.”) While the sexual assault humor does not go down quite as easily in this “enlightened” age, there’s still a lot to like and admire here, especially Mary Woronov’s fussy starlet, Paul Bartel’s preening artiste, and Dick Miller’s hustling huckster talent agent.

Louis C.K.: Hilarious (2010) (1st viewing) d. C.K., Louis
Guy’s funny, no question about it. A little reliant on shock humor, but sometimes he’s saying what you’re subconsciously thinking, which is pretty sharp.

Room, The (2003) (1st viewing) d. Wiseau, Tommy
It’s almost fitting that I should finally catch up with this midnight movie sensation the same week that I encounter Things and the week after revisiting the legendary Pieces. My initial reaction throughout was, “While I get that Wiseau’s quadruple-barreled ego-trip (starring, writing, directing, producing…and executive producing (!)) is ineptly made on every level and has some choice moments, this is astonishingly boring.” For me, a truly great bad movie doesn't need the communal experience or running audience commentary – the WTF factor should be juice enough. Obviously, a communal experience can enhance a film's impact, but I gotta admit, mostly I was just waiting for it to be over.


Caged Heat (1974) (1st viewing) d. Demme, Jonathan

Chained Heat (1983) (1st viewing) d. Nicholas, Paul

A pair of self-aware WIP (women in prison) flicks that deliver all the scuzzy male characters, obligatory shower scenes, catfights, inmate uprising, lady-on-lady lovin’ and shock-tastic torture sequences that made the subgenre great while deliberately going above and beyond the call of duty in order to call attention to conventions without tipping into parody. While the young Demme’s directorial debut boasts plenty of blood, boobs and bitches (courtesy of Russ Meyer protégé Erica Gavin, Roberta Collins, Juanita Brown and Barbara Steele as the tyrannical wheelchair-bound warden), it’s tough to compete with the sleazy sexy star power of Linda Blair, Sybil Danning, Stella Stevens, John Vernon, Henry Silva, Tamara Dobson and Kendal Kaldwell. Bottom line, if you’re looking for the real deal, these are two great places to start.


Stalker (1979)
(1st viewing) d. Tarkovsky, Andrei
While watching this epic exercise in sci-fi dystopia, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to Samuel Beckett’s immortal work, Waiting for Godot. I have tried to watch this “masterpiece” on at least five different occasions, and each time, while I recognize the impressiveness of the talents on the page and the stage, I have never managed to keep from woolgathering and/or dozing off. There are some incredibly striking moments of imagery, insight, humanity and absurdity within the Soviet auteur’s tone poem, but there is also an oppressive monotony to the proceedings that hammered this viewer’s attention span and eyelids into submission. No denying its importance or brilliance, but perhaps too rich a meal for one sitting.

Walker (1987) (1st viewing) d. Cox, Alex
Blistering indictment of the U.S.’s involvement in 1980s Nicaragua through Cox’s anachronism-filled retelling of American religious fanatic/mercenary William Walker who actually served as the country’s president from 1856-1857. Part Spaghetti Western, part period biopic, this extraordinary, bloody, funny, fearless political satire – featuring a flawlessly cast Ed Harris, Richard Masur, Peter Boyle, Rene Auberjonois, Xander Berkely, Gerritt Graham, post-Oscar-win Marlee Matlin and Santa Sangre’s Blanca Guerra) – ostensibly destroyed the director’s Hollywood career. Our loss, my friends, our loss.

2012 Totals to date: 40 films, 38 1st time views, 16 horror, 1 cinema

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