Friday, December 6, 2013

Fool's Views (11/25 - 12/1) (with Turkey!)

Howdy, folks,

With HIDDEN HORROR is about to take flight, Noises Off destroying Milwaukee audiences with unfettered hilarity, and a certain holiday celebrating thankfulness (followed by the annual pilgrimage to Kitley’s Krypt to assault eyes, brains, and stomachs known as Turkey Day), it turned out to be a good week for the Views. Like any self-respecting Thanksgiving feast, a balanced menu of horror and civilian offerings left me satisfied and built up my appetite for the remainder of the year. Doubtful we’ll reach to our usual 400+ films/year ratio, but I’m confident we’ll break 300; considering the bounty of offscreen adventures in 2013, that’s a tally I can live with.

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



Horror Show, The (1989) d. Isaac, James (USA) (1st and 2nd viewings)




Atomic Brain, The (aka Monstrosity) (1963) d. Mascelli, Joseph (USA) (1st viewing)
(IMDb rating 2.5)


Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein (1972) d. Franco, Jess (Spain) (1st viewing)
(IMDb rating 3.5)


Loch Ness Horror, The (1981) d. Buchanan, Larry (USA) (1st viewing)
(IMDb rating 2.4)


Frankenstein's Island (1981) d. Warren, Jerry (USA) (1st viewing)
(IMDb rating 1.9)



Better Off Dead... (1985) d. Holland, Savage Steve (USA) (1st viewing)

Some might be shocked that I was only catching this goofy teen comedy for the first time, but if there’s a gaping hole in my cinematic makeup, it’s goofy comedies from the 1980s. (I’d become familiar with the iconic “I want my two dollars!” line through osmosis, but hadn’t experienced it firsthand.) What I found most striking for a relatively mainstream release was how unabashedly bizarre it was – the jokes aren’t even jokes, but rather sophomoric ideas that one might come up with sitting around with friends. “What if mom served some gooey glop for dinner and it crawled off your plate? What if John Cusack was so obsessed with his girlfriend Amanda Wyss that he had photos of her face on all of his clothes hangers? What if the windows on the garage kept getting broken? What if the obnoxious next door neighbor had a fat slob son that she was trying to hook up with French exchange student Diane Franklin?” and so on. The title springs from Cusack’s depression over losing Wyss to hunky ski stud Aaron Dozier and a few half-hearted suicide attempts. Overall, I’m not unhappy I saw it, but it doesn’t merit any kind of “lost classic” status. (And that awful '80s soundtrack? BLARGH).

Pulp Fiction (1994) d. Tarantino, Quentin (USA) (4th viewing)

Hadn’t seen QT’s Palme d’Or winner in over a decade and I gotta say, it holds up even better than expected considering all the imitators spawned in its wake. The former video store clerk’s penchant for crackling dialogue about everyday matters and fragmented narrative – elements of his Reservoir Dogs breakout two years prior – come to full flower with a cast of Hollywood veterans (John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, Ving Rhames, Uma Thurman, Eric Stoltz, Rosanna Arquette, Harvey Keitel) used to extremely fine effect. Playful and violent, chatty and chummy, we come to enjoy the company of these characters set to the beat of a memorable collection of pop tunes. This may be the flick that gave birth to the egomaniacal monster that is The Tarantino, but it just might have been worth it.


Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1988) d. Haynes, Todd (USA) (1st viewing)

I'm Not There (2007) d. Haynes, Todd (USA) (1st viewing)

Two unique films with unique ideas that both go on too long to sustain interest. Haynes’ eye-catching short depicting the wholesome 70s songbird’s downward spiral brought on by anorexia nervosa almost entirely through the use of Barbie dolls is cute, innovative, and surprisingly earnest. But the novelty wears off after about 25 minutes, unfortunate since viewers still have another 20 clunky minutes to sit through. By contrast, Haynes and co-screenwriter Oren Moverman's (The Messenger, Rampart) device of having six wildly diverse actors play different incarnations of music legend Bob Dylan is extraordinary and extraordinarily polished. Again, however, he travels the same ground longer than necessary – had the bloated 135 behemoth been trimmed of its excess fat, I probably would have declared it a masterpiece. Instead, we watch Cate Blanchett (Oscar-nominated for her gender bending turn), Ben Whishaw, Christian Bale, Marcus Carl Franklin, Richard Gere, and Heath Ledger all inhabit characters (or splintered versions of the same character) that never change or grow, taxing our patience for both the movie and its subject.

2013 Totals to date: 281 films, 223 1st time views, 174 horror, 69 cinema


  1. It's a shame you weren't able to stick around for the rest of Turkey Day. We watched some doozies, including the '80s heavy-metal horror film Black Roses and 1980's inscrutable The Visitor. I'm still scratching my head over that one.

  2. I love THE VISITOR. So totally bonkers. You guys dug into the "fun" ones after i left, but since I'd seen them before I didn't feel too badly about. I mean, I felt physically and spiritually ill, but not sorry to have tread new waters.