Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Challenge Totals to Date:

Movies Watched Today: 4
Total Movies Watched: 72
Total First Time Views: 17
Amount raised: $662.40 

Today's showcased SCARE-A-THON Charity:
RIC O'BARRY'S DOLPHIN PROJECT, sponsored by Michelle Courvais

To showcase your charity, send an email to with your pledge amount and the charity's website!

The Stepford Wives (1975) d. Forbes, Bryan (USA) (3rd viewing) 115 min
Sexy and funny, inflammatory and spooky, William Goldman’s adaptation of Ira Levin’s bestseller is that rare animal: a socially relevant, yet thoroughly entertaining sci-fi/horror thriller. Frustrated photographer Joanna (Katharine Ross) escapes the big-city madness with her husband (Peter Masterson), moving to the idyllic Connecticut suburb of Stepford. Before long, the liberated lass (along with gal pals played by Paula Prentiss and Tina Louise) observe that the local female population is a submissive, domestic lot, unnaturally preoccupied with fulfilling their husbands’ every passing desire. With scenes both humorous and claustrophobic, Forbes ratchets up the tension as our heroine grows increasingly suspicious of Stepford’s sinister “Men’s Association,” ultimately fearing for her life and soul. This genuinely chilling mystery slyly keeps its social agenda intentionally ambiguous, leaving interpretation to the viewer. Cautionary women’s lib tale or gentle mocking of raving feminists? Nail-biting conspiracy yarn or satire on sexual politics? Science fiction or social fact? Audiences saw all of this and more, sparking controversy and heated discussions in print and/or coffee shops, and it is a testament to Goldman’s taut screenplay, sharp performances, and top-notch final act that it still packs a wallop today. Ross and Prentiss are particularly good, as is Patrick O’Neal’s creepy masculinis chauvinist. Look sharp for Dee Wallace’s screen debut as Louise’s maid, with Mary Stuart Masterson doing likewise as daddy’s little girl. Rated PG, despite its constant sexual innuendos and some partial nudity in the final reel.

Dementia 13 (1963) d. Coppola, Francis Ford (USA) (3rd viewing) 75 min
From such humble beginnings, legends are born. After wrapping a shoot in Ireland, erstwhile producer Roger Corman allowed his assistant, a fledgling writer/director by the name of Coppola, to shoot his debut on the leftover castle sets. The no-frills shocker begins with great promise, as Luana Anders’ husband suffers a heart attack aboard a rowboat (eerily accompanied by tinny rock n’ roll on the transistor radio) before her eyes. As the scheming spouse connives to cover up his death long enough to get her battle-axe mother-in-law (Eithne Dunne) to change the will, she uncovers a dark family secret. The film’s first half is the stronger, with several suspenseful, shadowy sequences within the Haloran estate; it’s when Coppola abruptly shifts gears with a bold Psycho-like axe murder of one of his main characters that the film sadly loses its way, leaving us in the hands of Patrick Magee’s muttering country doctor playing amateur sleuth amidst the familial squabbling. The fetching, sharp-eyed Anders is the movie’s biggest asset, her duplicitous intensity overpowering co-stars William Campbell and Bart Patton (neither of which speak with any accent whatsoever, despite their implicit Irish heritage). Though an engaging enough late-night chiller, Coppola’s script is notably weak on character development, there are glaring continuity errors (Anders’ underwear changes color underwater), and the obvious foreshadowing of the killer’s identity doesn’t help matters. The gore is limited to b/w blood trickling down axe handles, a laughably fake decapitation, and a body hanging on a meat hook (a device Tobe Hooper would one-up a decade later with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre).

The Little Shop of Horrors (1960) d. Corman, Roger (USA) (3rd viewing) 72 min
Filmed in two days with a $27,000 budget, this hysterical black comedy about a man-eating plant is proof positive that people, not dollar signs, make good movies. Producer/director Roger Corman hijacked a set after another studio had finished filming, dressed it as Mushnik’s Flower Shop, and proceeded to populate it with screenwriter Charles B. Griffith’s memorably wacky characters. Jonathan Haze stars as Seymour Krelborn, the nebbishy hero who invents a new hybrid of plant in the hopes of saving his job, only to find that it has a taste for human blood. And it’s not shy about expressing it either, as the puppet-like pod mouth opens to plaintively whine, “Feeeeed Meeee!” The more it eats, the bigger it gets, and soon the flower shop business is booming, but at a grisly price. The rest of the cast is terrific, especially Mel Welles’ meshugenneh shop owner Gravis Mushnik, torn between financial success and his wavering conscience. Jackie Joseph is deliciously daffy as Audrey, the object of Seymour’s affections, endowed with a gorgeous figure and a penchant for malapropism. Dick Miller’s stoic, petal-nibbling customer is a low-key treat, Myrtle Vail steals every scene as Seymour’s hypochondriac mother, and a very young Jack Nicholson delivers a priceless turn as a masochistic dental patient. Initially dismissed as one of “Corman’s cheapies,” the film eventually developed a cult following and inspired a hit off-Broadway musical, which was in turn adapted as a big-budget screen musical in 1986. Hilarious, innocuous fun.

Santa Sangre (1989) d. Jodorowsky, Alejandro (Mexico) (3rd viewing) 123min
This tale of a circus owner Orgo (Guy Stockwell), his religious zealot wife Concha (Blanca Guerra), and their emotionally damaged offspring Fenix (played in young and older incarnations by the director’s sons, Adan and Axel) is one of the finest combinations of horror movie and art-house film. Every inch of screen is filled with stunning, original imagery and characters, accompanied by Simon Boswell’s near-constant musical soundtrack that both supports and juxtaposes its visual counterpart. The elaborate “elephant funeral” sequence, the Tattooed Woman’s (Thelma Tixou) seduction of Orgo and the tragic aftermath thereof, the asylum inmates’ journey into the unnamed city’s seamy underbelly, Concha and Fenix’s “amazing hands” nightclub act, each set-piece is more beautifully twisted and fully imagined than the last. Though consciously borrowing from the Psycho playbook for the horror sequences, Jodorowsky does so with such vibrant uniqueness of vision that we never condemn the appropriation, but celebrate it. Wonderful, theatrical characters populate an operatic world, with circus performers sharing time with residents from high and low society. Unlike anything else you’ve experienced, possessing heart, mind, blood, and soul. A must-see.

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