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.



A*PE* (1976) d. Leder, Paul (1st viewing) (South Korea/USA)

You know, if you would have asked me prior to watching this whether I could ever get bored watching a guy in a giant ape suit stomping around, destroying miniature buildings and tanks, I would have replied, "Of course not." Consider me schooled in the art of soporific excellence. It's pretty much a shameless rip-off of King Kong (surprise, surprise), with some zany 3D-esque touches of flaming arrows and rocks and what-not being pitched at the camera. Thomas Sueyres did a pretty funny review of this one on Video Junkie , as did Jabootu’s Bad Movie Dimension (

Future Shock (1994) d. Parkinson, Eric / Sassone, Oly / Reeves, Matt (USA) (1st viewing)

I thought this was the 1972 Orson Welles-narrated documentary based on futurist Alan Toffler's book, but instead, it turned out to be this bizarre little hodgepodge anthology with Bill Paxton, Brion James, Vivian Schilling, and Martin Kove, with one segment directed by Reeves (Cloverfield, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes). The first segment - which also introduces the wraparound story - has a paranoid young woman (Schilling, who also scripted) in therapy with psychologist Kove who introduces the cutting-edge notion of "virtual reality," in this case a buzzing electrical light show lamp that gives the subject vivid hallucinations. She proceeds to imagine she's being attacked by a pack of wolves outside her high security mansion. Nice therapy, right? Another patient, strapped for cash, is subsequently terrorized by a roommate from hell in the form of ponytailed Paxton. Reeves' segment, "Mr. Petrified Forest" was actually his university thesis project and follows a recently deceased gent's ponderings as to how he came to pass over to the other side. Overall, this is not great, but a relatively painless time waster, a fond remembrance of the days of late-night cable programming.

Gnaw: Food of the Gods 2 (1989) d. Lee, Damian (Canada) (1st viewing)

While having no relation to the original 1976 film or the H.G. Wells novel, this is a prime slice of wackadoo with an experimental growth enhancement drug being fed to vegetables which, in a WHO COULD HAVE SEEN THAT COMING twist, get nibbled on by some local lab rats. Soon, there are oversized rodents feasting on co-eds right, left, and sidewise, with a climax set at a synchronized swimming meet that has to be seen to be believed. O Canada!


No Telling (1991) d. Fessenden, Larry (USA) (1st and 2nd viewings)


Habit (1995) d. Fessenden, Larry (USA) (5th viewing)


Wendigo (2001) d. Fessenden, Larry (USA) (3rd viewing)


The Last Winter (2007) d. Fessenden, Larry (USA) (3rd viewing)



Last Caress (2010) d. Gaillard, Francois / Robin, Christophe (France) (1st viewing)
Blackaria (2010) d. Gaillard, Francois / Robin, Christophe (France) (1st viewing)

Hat’s off to Jason Coffman for the loan of these exquisitely shot giallo tributes, and I’m going to send the traffic his way.   Last Caress is one of the Doc's favorite discoveries of the year, with gorgeous gals getting gloriously gutted in various states of undress.


Our 13th annual excursion into bad movies and the maniacs who love them, as hosted by Kitley’s Krypt:

Hand of Death (1962) d. Nelson, Gene (USA) (1st viewing)

The Navy vs. the Night Monsters (1966) d. Hoey, Michael A. USA (2nd viewing)

The Lost Continent (1968) d. Carreras, Michael (UK) (3rd viewing)

Headless Eyes (1971) d. Bateman, Kent (USA) (1st viewing)

Night of the Demon (1980) d. Wasson, James, C. (USA) (3rd viewing)

Up from the Depths (1979) d. Griffith, Charles B. (USA) (1st viewing)

Blood Rage (1987) d. Grissmer, John (USA) (1st viewing)


Alice's Restaurant (1969) d. Penn, Arthur (USA) (1st viewing)

Based on the classic 18-minute Arlo Guthrie tune, I had no idea what I was in for. I was expecting at the very least an expansion of the events depicted in the song, but said events don’t even take up 18 minutes of the two-hour running time. I can't say that I disliked the flick, but I'm just curious who the target audience was. It's not pro or anti hippie, it's not pro or anti establishment; instead, it's all over the place with people you don't really connect with and who just keep drifting by. Seeing as how this was Penn's follow-up to Bonnie and Clyde, I'll bet the studios were less-than-thrilled. Guthrie is an amiable onscreen presence, and Pat Quinn as Alice is achingly gorgeous and my kinda woman. James Broderick (aka Matthew's dad) is a tough one to hook into, a real '70s character in that he's not good, bad, or anything other than an emotional wild card. I still think I'd like to see a big screen telling of the song proper, but that said, I'm kind of knocked out by the fact that they chose not to do so, except in the most cursory fashion. Big balls. Like, huge.

Fury (2014) d. Ayer, David (USA) (1st viewing)

Solid WWII drama with Brad Pitt as the scarred leader of a tank company working his way through Nazi Germany toward the end of the conflict. The action sequences are well choreographed, and while the rough 'n' tumble band of misfits (plus the requisite newbie) seem a little formulaic, writer/director Ayer peels back the layers to reveal the real humans beneath the bravado. Seriously bloody body count.

Rocky (1976) d. Avildsen, John G. (USA) (5th viewing)

With Creed’s opening right around the corner, the femalien and I revisited the Italian Stallion’s origin story. It's easy to lose sight, what with Stallone's career arc and the franchising of the character, how magnificent and satisfying the 1976 original is. There's a reason it won Best Picture, with so much restraint and nuance absent from the rest of the series (which just got more bombastic and formulaic with each succeeding installment). The first scene where Rocky visits Adrian in the pet shop, his eyes nervously glancing for her attention/approval. The scenes with loan shark Gazzo (the marvelous Joe Spinell). The scene in the ice-skating rink. The gut-wrenching sequence where Mickey comes hat-in-hand asking to be Rocky's manager. The training montage that launched a thousand training montages. Rocky's "just wanna go the distance" monologue. That first round of the fight. That 14th round of the fight. "Ain't gonna be no rematch." "Don't want one." The fact that he LOSES and yet it's a happy ending. And so many more. Do yourself a favor and visit an old friend from the neighborhood.

Southpaw (2015) d. Fuqua, Antoine (USA) (1st viewing)

No denying that Jake Gyllenhaal did his homework (and gym work) to prepare for his role as a disgraced pugilist, but that doesn't necessarily make for an entertaining feature. What follows is a slog of clichés and melodrama that has a few bright moments, but not many. I'd rather watch Jake's training routine for 90 minutes.

Spectre (2015) d. Mendes, Sam (USA/UK) (1st viewing)

My buddies Kevin Matthews and Ian Simmons detailed their discontent with the most recent 007 offering so eloquently that I'll just leave it to them to carry out the heavy lifting - click the links and enjoy the bashing. In spite of the big-budget big-bam-boom, this is easily one of the most forgettable Bond outings, padded and posturing its way through a 2+ hour runtime. Daniel Craig smirks and smolders to little avail, and his co-stars don't make much of an impression either, including Christoph Waltz as the most boring supervillain since the Brosnan era (oh, wait, there was Mathieu Amalric from Quantum of Solace, never mind). Action set-pieces are fine, but I never said, "Whoa," and darn it, that's your job, folks. Make me say "Whoa."

Victoria (2015) d. Schipper, Sebastian (Germany) (1st viewing)

Breathtaking cinematic experiment that one-ups Birdman by ACTUALLY shooting an entire movie in one unbroken take, transporting a young Spanish woman (Laia Costa) and her recently befriended quartet of male roustabouts all over Berlin in real time. The less you know, the better, but this is must-see filmmaking and one of my favorite flicks of the year.

2015 Totals to date: 333 films, 179 1st time views, 214 horror, 36 cinema

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