Wednesday, December 12, 2018

11/19 – 11/30 (Part 2 of 2) (Last of the Turkey!)

Howdy, folks!

Sorry, got a little distracted there in the real world with zero time to scribble or watch anything over the past couple weeks as I was prepping for and completing the final phase of my Suited Instructor certification with IMPACT Chicago, a extraordinary and empowering women’s self-defense program that is definitely worth your time and energy, whether you are male, female, or non-binary-identifying. Check them out at Impact (or wherever your closest IMPACT chapter is located).

With that tidy bit of justifying out of the way, here are the remaining Views for November, which included the glorious gorge-fest that is the Kitley’s Krypt Turkey Day Celebration, now in its 16th year. (I’ve been there since Jon started letting other people join the “fun” in 2005.) We also snuck in a couple more Tom Cruise vehicles along the way, bringing our total for the year to 10 (with more on deck before the clock runs out). And, in keeping with the November Turkey Challenge, we decided to throw a couple Civilians birds on the platter as well. (Hey, when the 40th anniversary of the Star Wars Christmas Special rolls around, you kinda gotta honor that.)

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




Anthropophagus (1980) d. D'Amato, Joe (Italy) (2nd viewing)

Atmospheric but lugubrious chiller about a crew of vacationers who head out to a Greek island for a little exploring only to unwittingly stumble into a hulking madman with a taste for human flesh. The first hour is a bit of a slog, moving in fits and starts, but the final act picks up nicely with several juicy scenes (especially, you know, THAT ONE) which understandably landed it on the Video Nasty list. This gore classick starring Tisa Farrow (Zombie) and Zora Kerova arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Severin Films (via a 2K scan from the original 16mm negative) along with numerous informative interviews with the gut-muncher himself, Luigi Montefiori aka George Eastman (who memorably calls it a “shit movie … I don’t know why anyone watches it”), Kerova, editor Bruno Micheli, actor Saverio Vallone, and FX artist Pietro Tenoglio.

Absurd (1981) d. D'Amato, Joe (Italy) (2nd viewing)

Released in several countries as Monster Hunter and Anthropophagus II (due to being directed by D’Amato and starring George Eastman, not because it has ANYTHING to do with the first film), this wild and wacky slasher features an maniacal killer (Eastman) who, thanks to an ultra-fast blood-clotting condition, proves impervious to stabs or gunshots, making him one tough customer. (I appreciate the fact that they even bother to justify it, unlike, say, Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers who are unstoppable just because.) All sorts of gruesome mayhem befalls the fictitious American suburb where the film is set, where couples get together to eat spaghetti and watch the football game (you know, like they do), leaving their invalid daughters home alone to fend for themselves after the babysitters get wiped out. Another Video Nasty gets the gold-star treatment from Severin Films, whose Blu-ray release features both the 94-minute International cut and the 88-minute Italian Rosso Sangue version, alongside interviews with Eastman, D’Amato, and Italian genre mainstay Michele Soavi (who plays an uncredited biker in the film).

Zombi 3 (1988) d. Fulci, Lucio (Italy) (2nd viewing)

The Godfather of Italian Gore shot a goodly portion of this semi-sequel to his smash Zombie (known in Italy as Zombi 2, cashing in on George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, which was released in Italy as Zombi… still with me?) in the Philippines, but then fell ill and had to leave the film in a not-quite-finished state, forcing the producers to recruit (uncredited) director Bruno Mattei (The Other Hell) and co-writers Claudio Fragasso and Rossella Drudi (Troll 2) to pick up the pieces (and create a few more) to wrap things up. The result is a frenzied virus flick with lots of guys in hazmat suits going toe-to-toe with the shambling infected horde, with nary a dull or logical moment to be found. Severin serves up the goodies in this gorgeous Blu-ray presentation packed with audio commentary (stars Deran Sarafian and Beatrice Ring), interviews (Mattei, Fragasso, Drudi, actors Marina Loi, Massimo Vanni, and Ottaviano Dell’Acqua), and trailers. Good stuff.

Zombi 4: After Death (1989) d. Fragasso, Claudio (Italy) (1st viewing)

In between Monster Dog and the unforgettable Troll 2, Fragasso assumed the reins for this “not really a sequel but it’s got zombies so let’s call it Zombi 4 and hopefully make more money” venture that combines voodoo priests resurrecting the dead, ex-military mercenaries (and damn proud of it!), and the bounciest, scrappiest undead you’ve ever seen. Shot in the Philippines and Italy, energy and action take precedence over logic or a cohesive narrative, leaving bad movie lovers all the happier for it. Severin Films gives us the sweet, sweet Blu-ray stuff in the form of rare behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with adult film superstar Jeff Stryker aka Chuck Peyton, Candice Daly, and screenwriters Fragasso and his partner Rossella Drudi.


Frankenstein Meets the Spacemonster (1965) d. Gaffney, Robert (USA) (1st viewing)

Honoring the late, great James Karen (Poltergeist, Return of the Living Dead), who passed away on Oct 23, Jon decided to program one of the character actor’s earliest roles, playing a scientist who invents a cyborg intended for space travel. (Yes, it’s a stretch, so much so that someone has to actually say, “so, he’s like a Frankenstein.”) Unfortunately, just as our metallic buddy gets shot into space, he crosses paths with a gang of marauding space aliens who shoot down the craft and then proceed to Earth’s surface to kidnap all the white wimmin (in Puerto Rico)! Silly but fun, with a pretty great monster in the final reel.

Corpse Eaters (1974) d. Passmore, Donald R. / Vetter, Klaus (Canada) (1st viewing)

Two couples out looking for a good time decide to visit a funeral home and perform an ancient rite that resurrects the dead. Don’t you hate when that happens? There’s a goodly amount of filler, mostly featuring the grumpiest onscreen mortician of all time, but when the good stuff comes, it’s accompanied by a “warning” clip of a guy gagging so that squeamish viewers can look away! Wow.

Island Claws (1980) d. Cardenas, Hernan (USA) (1st viewing)

Speaking of wow, hats off to Glen Robinson’s special effects team (King Kong, Logan’s Run) that built this giant mother-lumping crab, shown in some awesome master shots with the cast climbing all over it. The story follows a team of genetic scientists making things grow bigger (like you do), but then shores up its bets by having some nuclear waste fall into the ocean for good measure. Whatever the cause, we get a whole bunch of pissed-off little crustaceans and one real big ’un doing battle with Robert Lansing doing battle with his dialect coach. (Is that Irish? Scottish? Drunken Boston?)

Attack of the Beast Creatures (1985) d. Stanley, Michael (USA) (3rd viewing)

Shot in and around Fairfield, Connecticut, this scrappy little independent venture feels like a group of community theatre enthusiasts decided to make a monster movie (in period costumes, no less!), which is exactly what happened. Our merry band is shipwrecked on an island overflowing with acid pools and marauding creatures resembling the Zuni Fetish Doll from the “Amelia” episode of Trilogy of Terror. Mayhem and delight ensues.

Legacy of Blood (1978) d. Monson, Carl (USA) (1st viewing)

I’m not sure I would have enjoyed this one as much had we not been watching it with such a hearty and happy group fueled by friendship and lots of pizza. A family is called together for the reading of the will of their cantankerous, recently deceased father (John Carradine) and, wouldn’t you know it, people start getting knocked off. But not before we find out some pretty wackadoo backstory involving lamps made out of Nazis, brothers and sisters who get uncomfortably close, and the joy of seeing This Island Earth co-stars Jeff Morrow and Faith Domergue sharing weary looks at one another, the subtext being “God, how did we get here?”

Wendigo (aka Frostbiter) (1995) d. Chaney, Tom (USA) (1st viewing)

Clearly inspired by the Troma (who eventually picked up and distributed the film) aesthetic, a gaggle of high-spirited Michigan boys and girls set out to make a scare flick packed with stop-motion monsters, gallons of gore, a smattering of nudity, some scattershot (and scatological) humor, and a ton of chutzpah. I could have stood for it to be a little less overtly jokey at times (and for there have been fewer garage rock bands underscoring every single scene), but there’s no denying the energy and impressive makeup/visual effects skill on display.

Syngenor (1990) d. Elangian, Jr., George (USA) (1st viewing)

David Gale (Re-Animator) runs absolutely bananas throughout this creature feature, stealing every scene as a crazycakes corporate hotshot whose company is creating genetically superior fighting machines to win all the wars ever… except for the fact that they seem to be allergic to water, gunshots, and fire. But other than that, they’re really great. No, really. Hey, even if they are a bit fragile to be supersoldiers, the monster suits (designed by William Malone, director of Scared to Death, Creature, and the House on Haunted Hill remake) are pretty awesome.

NOTE: To get Jon's side of things, head over to the Krypt and read his official recap HERE. As always, special thanks to Nick and Dawn for their culinary expertise and generosity of spirit. It wouldn't be the same without those special gourmet pizzas. (Miso Soup!!!! Crab Rangoon!!!! Drunken Billy!!!!)



Star Wars Holiday Special (1978) d. Binder, Steve (USA) (1st viewing)

Yes, it’s the sweet and heartwarming TV-special that left viewers of every generation asking “WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING????!!!”, reuniting most of the Star Wars crew (Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels) for an epic tale of love and family in a galaxy far, far away. Chewbacca is trying to get home to visit his wife and kid and dad for the Life Day holiday and his buddy Han Solo isn’t going to let him down. Along the way, Art Carney shows up at the ’Baccas house as a TV repairman right around the time as some jerky Imperial Stormtroopers, Bea Arthur croons a “last call” ballad that should be resurrected in every modern tavern, and there’s a craptastic animated sequence detailing the adventures of our intrepid heroes because who can afford those fancy effects for TV? Spirit-crushing and mind-blowing in all the best ways.

Staying Alive (1983) d. Stallone, Sylvester (USA) (1st viewing)

Was anyone really jonesing for a sequel to Saturday Night Fever? And if they were, did they really want it to abandon the whole discotech thing to explore the tawdry backstage life of Broadway dancers instead? Apparently writer/director/producer Stallone really was and did, because he goes all in, making a flick as supremely 80s as the original was for the 70s. This, unfortunately, is not a compliment. Not only does it seem extremely unlikely that superstud Tony Manero (John Travolta) would take his booty-scootying skills to the Great White Way, he’s reverted back to his jerkasaurus ways that we thought he’d outgrown in SNF, making him such an unpleasant protagonist we don’t care if he stays alive or not. (Spoiler: he does.)

"I mean, come on."

Stallone has clearly never been backstage for five minutes, otherwise he’d know that a) no one gets rewarded for telling a director they “made a mistake casting so-and-so and you ought to cast me instead,” b) Broadway shows are not actually fog-and-dance concerts (there are usually songs, Sly, with, you know, singers), c) directors don’t usually head up to the booth to call the cues on opening night, and d) throwing your partner off stage so you can dance a solo isn’t usually the ticket to stardom, even if you give her a chance to come back and bow with you at the end.

"Dannnnccccce. Burrrrnnnnnnnnn."

What makes it all the more depressing is that Travolta clearly put in a LOT of effort transforming his physique and learning those inane sequences (the man can dance), all in service of a truly goddawful venture. Julie Bavasso returns as Tony’s mom, soap opera star Finola Hughes flaunts her magnificent mane, and Cynthia Rhodes (Dirty Dancing) shimmies and shakes alongside Frank Stallone (“Far from Over”). Can never be unseen.


Born on the Fourth of July (1989) d. Stone, Oliver (USA) (3rd viewing)

Tom tries Real Hard as real-life combat veteran Ron Kovic, but never actually turns the corner into being convincing. I’m a little stunned looking back, because while it’s earnest and liberal and well-intentioned as all get-out, it’s not really a good movie. I had also forgotten that Stone won the Best Director Oscar over more deserving nominees Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot) and Kenneth Branagh (Henry V), not to mention the snubbed Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing) and Phil Alden Robinson (Field of Dreams). Um, no.

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011) d. Bird, Brad (USA) (3rd viewing)

Since she’d enjoyed M:I – Fallout (without ever having seen any of the other installments), I thought it was my civic duty to introduce the femalien to the joys of watching Mr. Cruise bounce around the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (aka the tallest building in the world) or the amazing car park sequence that feels like a live-action cartoon (not surprising, since Bird is the guy behind the Incredibles movies). Still the most “fun” entry in the series, for my money, and I really wish they had kept Paula Patton on the team instead of Jeremy Renner moving forward. Would it have killed them to have two women in the mix?

2018 Totals to date: 308 films, 194 1st time views, 155 horror, 41 cinema


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