Monday, April 20, 2020

Fool's Views (4/1 – 4/15)

"Anybody need a hand? HAHAHAHAHA OH I LOVE THAT ONE."

Hey there, team!

I know, it’s shocking to have the Views actually up to date. Crazy what happens when you have a shorter commute (i.e. not leaving the house!) I even knocked out my Kryptic Army mission before the month was even halfway through. I was going to make a joke about that being one of the seven signs of the Apocalypse, but I'm not going to tempt Fate, if you know what I mean....

Pretty happy with how this year is going thus far in terms of hooking up the holiday horror with the corresponding dates. Not only did we do a double feature of My Bloody Valentine back on Feb 14, we got in an April 1st viewing of April Fool’s Day. (Both courtesy of Shout! Factory.) True, I missed seeing a Jason Voorhees feature back in March, but we have another Friday the 13th coming up in November, so I’ll have another shot at it. (I confess, I didn’t really work that hard to find anything Easter-related, but there are only so many times you can watch Night of the Lepus.)

Hope everyone is keeping healthy and hopeful out there. And remember: The only thing more fun than watching movies is talking to other people about the movies you’ve watched! (As long as they’re six feet or more away, of course.) So, make sure you’re doing plenty of both during these strange days.

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



April Fool’s Day (1986) d. Walton, Fred (USA) (3rd viewing)


Frankenstein: The True Story (1973) d. Smight, Jack (UK) (2nd viewing)



The Astrologer (1977) d. Glickenhaus, James (USA) (1st viewing)


La Bruja (1954) d. Urueta, Chano (Mexico) (1st viewing)



Barb Wire (1996) d. Hogan, David (USA) (2nd viewing)

I forget who gave me the VHS for this, but it’s been sitting on my shelf for at least 20 years because that’s the last time I remember watching it. But I remembered it actually being a fair bit of B-movie fun, so I decided to take it for another spin as I was reorganizing my physical media. Once again, I was pleasantly surprised by how entertaining it is. Based on the Dark Horse comic, Pamela Anderson Lee is perfectly cast as human cartoon Barb Wire, living out a post-apocalyptic existence as the owner of the Hammerhead Bar and part-time mercenary during the Second Civil War.

While hardly the most accomplished thespian, the former Playboy model and Baywatch star more than makes up for it in physical presence, her balloon-like bubbies bursting at the seams of whatever revealing leather/latex outfit suits her fancy while her waist is cinched in only to explode back out over her shapely hips. Ostensibly a riff on Casablanca, with Barb’s former beau (Temuera Morrison) showing up on her doorstep looking to transport his new bride (Victoria Rowell), who has secrets that will aide the Resistance, safely to Canada. There’s plenty of explosive big-bam-boom action in the form of car chases, gun battles, and, well, explosions, and the supporting cast (Udo Kier, Xander Berkeley, Steve Railsback, Clint Howard, Jack Noseworthy) is clearly having a grand old time under music video director Hogan’s watchful eye.

Out of Shadows (2020) d. Smith, Mike (1st viewing)

Former stuntman/director Smith finds religion following a career-ending accident and has his eyes opened to the fact that Hollywood is run by the moneyed power elite who also have political connections. (I know. I couldn’t believe it either. Ahem.) He feels inspired to create this documentary, revealing the “truth” that big, potentially amoral corporations own the entertainment platforms and, as such, they control the product that audiences consume, whether it be movies, television, music, radio, or newscasts. Oh, and the CIA is involved in everything and that nobody gets to do anything without their say so. Along the way, he points out that MK Ultra was a real thing, that Satanists are a real thing, and that Pizzagate was a REAL REAL THING.

Smith isn’t even a good conspiracy theorist, content with throwing a whole bunch of “facts” in the air and then saying, “I mean, connect the dots, people.” Um, okay. Does it count if I connect the dots and there is still no picture, Mike? The fact that Smith’s hashtags include #MAGA, #QAnon, and “Follower of the Lord Jesus Christ American Patriot” earns him no favors from here, but without even taking that into account, he doesn’t seem to make a case, have a plan, or even a point, however well-polished his presentation may be. (“Powerful people sometimes do not-very-nice things” is not exactly a revelation. Hell, I learned that from the movies!) The scariest thing is how many people are boosting his non-message message: Since posting on YouTube a week ago, the film has already garnered over 9 million views, with people touting it as a “must watch.” Sigh.

The Passion of Darkly Noon (1995) d. Ridley, Philip (UK/Germany) (1st viewing)

Knowing that I was a huge fan of The Reflecting Skin, my buddy Gert put this on my radar years ago but unfortunately the disc he sent my way had a programming error and consequently froze throughout. Even so, I could tell that the visuals were stunning and was most excited at the prospect of catching up with it in toto. Happily, the good folks at Arrow Video heard my pleas, serving up a gorgeous Blu-ray presentation with extras aplenty. Ridley’s painterly images are even more awe-inspiring in high defintion, brilliantly realized by cinematographer John de Borman (whose humble beginnings included genre deep cuts Unmasked Part 25 and Death Machine), making the ham-fisted morality tale they are serving seem all the clunkier by comparison.

Brendan Fraser, as a stuttering, simple-minded cult member found wandering in the woods and brought to the doorstep of nature child Ashley Judd and her sculptor lover Viggo Mortensen, is not really up to the task of carrying such unwieldy material, and his transformation from tortured innocent to instrument of vengeance is labored at best. A failed dramatic experiment that remains a breathtaking exercise in sensuality. Available now on Blu-ray from Arrow Video and can be ordered HERE:

Through My Father’s Eyes: The Ronda Rousey Story (2019) d. Stretch, Gary (Canada/US) (1st viewing)

Fine little documentary about the former judo Olympian who broke through the UFC gender wall and reined as the World Bantamweight Champion from 2013 to 2016. While it’s clear that Stretch has great affection for his subject (he was one of her striking coaches), his choice to include countless reaction shots of HIMSELF nodding and looking thoughtful are a little questionable.

Unbreakable (2000) d. Shyamalan, M. Night (USA) (2nd viewing)

It’s quite something to revisit this film considering that we’re not only mired in a superhero-glutted entertainment landscape, but also on the other side of the writer/director’s status as Hollywood’s newest wunderkind. Like many, I find this to be the equal to The Sixth Sense if not its better, and one can’t help but wish that Shyamalan had been able to refrain from believing his own press and diving into deeper pools of hubris until his eventual implosion. (I’m marking it at 2008’s The Happening, while others point earlier to Lady in the Water or later to Last Airbender and After Earth.) I’ve often called it one of the best superhero movies ever made, and it still stands up today.


The Breakfast Club (1985) d. Hughes, John (USA) (3rd viewing)

Planes, Trains, & Automobiles (1987) d. Hughes, John (USA) (5th viewing)

Weird Science (1985) d. Hughes, John (USA) (2nd viewing)

Having seen Sixteen Candles the previous week, it was kind of a no-brainer to revisit some of Hughes’ other efforts as part of our Quarantine Quomfort Food series. (Did you realize he only directed EIGHT MOVIES? For such an 80s icon, that seems impossible, but it’s true.) It also helped that Arrow Video released their special edition of Weird Science a few months ago, so I had that sitting near to hand. I didn’t remember thinking much of it at the time, but I think it might have been one of those that was on HBO constantly and thereby became a nostalgic favorite by default. I mean, yes, there are a few bright spots (most involving Bill Paxton’s memorable monster big brother Chet), but overall it’s a pretty weak storyline and the “science” is straight out of a three-year-old’s head.

Then it was time to fill in a shocking gap in the femalien’s cinematic education, having never seen the Thanksgiving perennial Planes, Train, and Automobiles (aka John Candy’s finest hour), packed with endlessly quotable dialogue, brilliant physical comedy, and killer cameos from Dylan Baker, Kevin Bacon, Edie McClurg, Charles Tyner, Martin Ferrero, and Michael McKean.

With those in the rearview, there was no other choice but to pop in The Breakfast Club (aka Judd Nelson’s finest hour) which, while undeniably flimsy in plot and internal logic, still endures as a realistic reflection of (a certain demographic’s) adolescence. This is also as good a time as any to point out that Anthony Michael Hall demonstrates an impressive range within his triumvirate of geek roles (Candles, Breakfast, Science) because while all are social outsiders, they are very different. One might even question whether they would even be friends with one another, which is an achievement unto itself.


Hard Times (1975) d. Hill, Walter (USA) (3rd viewing)

Hill’s sturdy debut feature benefits greatly from the presence of Bronson as a Depression-era bare-knuckle fighter and James Coburn (their third collaboration) as his wheeling-dealing manager. Strother Martin turns in a memorable supporting role as their opium-addicted, Edgar Allan Poe verse-spouting corner man, with Jill Ireland as a sometime prostitute that catches Bronson’s eye. The combat scenes possess a brutal realism (Robert Tessier and Nick Dimitri make for formidable opponents) and the taciturn star is even more tight-lipped than usual, communicating more with a glance or a squint than paragraphs could reveal. That said, we never learn much about any of these characters – we meet them, we understand them, we even empathize with them, but we don’t know them... which somehow feels authentic to a period where no one had anything to spare, not even a backstory.

Pat and Mike (1952) d. Cukor, George (USA) (2nd viewing)

Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy’s seventh screen teaming, with Herself playing a world-class athlete and Himself as her controlling manager/coach. Bronson has an entertaining supporting role as mafia muscle pressuring Hepburn to throw an important golf match who gets taught a valuable lesson in fisticuffs. Aldo Ray is pretty terrific as a slow-between-the-ears boxer, having previously worked with Cukor on The Marrying Kind the same year (as did Bronson).

Violent City (aka The Family) (1970) d. Sollima, Sergio (Italy/France) (2nd viewing)

Riding the wave of his newfound popularity in Europe, Bronson enlivens this twisty-turny crime thriller about a hit man who is double-crossed by his lover (Jill Ireland) and sets out to make EVERYBODY pay, including crime boss Telly Savalas, fellow assassin Michael Constantin, creepy lawyer Umberto Orsini, and any number of thugs sent into the line of fire. Great action sequences (opening car chase is a doozy) and the nihilistic final sequence involving a glass elevator is the kind that raises eyebrows at its dark worldview.

2020 Totals to Date: 133 films, 96 first time views, 39 horror, 2 cinema



  1. Pamela anderson acting oh boy.

    1. She's actually pretty great in this part. Some might say it's the role she was born to play. I also like the fact that anyone who was wondering, "Do you think Pam will show some skin in her first major starring role?" has that question answered in the first 5 seconds of the movie. It's like, "YUP, THERE SHE IS AND THERE THEY ARE."

  2. Glad to see you finally caught up with Passion of Darkly Noon, amigo. Not the Philip Ridley film with the most impact, I agree. But still appealing and satisfying when you have a taste for his work. Strange about that malfunctioning disc there. It nonetheless was a legit backup copy from 'the AP archives' here. Glad nonetheless you got to see it in crispy hi-def now.

    When did you saw Frankenstein: The True Story for the first time? Curious, as for me it was one of the very first encounters with / exposures to Frankenstein films in general. Once saw it as the full two-part TV mini-series as it was intended to be aired (or cabled) over here, when I was a little kid.

    Weird Science. Such a teenage affair. Yet impossible not to enjoy when you're seeing it in your actual early teens. However, there was sort of a companion piece (for me, at least) to this movie, which I actually (still) like a lot more: My Science Project (starring Dennis Hopper). It even came out two years earlier, in 1985. Much more enjoyable and simply a better film, to me. Have you ever seen it? And you have an additional reason to watch: it features one of the coolest, most accomplished dinosaurs on screen for that time (limited in screentime, perhaps, but non-CGI for the better, obviously)

    Last but not least, since you mention Unbreakable as 'one of the best super hero movies ever made' and I presume you can add one of the more 'high-profile' ones to that description... Have you seen Special (2006) starring Michael Rapaport already? I'd say: one of the best indie super hero movies ever made (post-2000, if you will). And by the way, you have a copy of it. ;)

    1. It's funny that you mention Frankenstein: The True Story, because Jon Kitley mentions his experience of seeing it on TV as a kid in his new book DISCOVER THE HORROR. I didn't see it until I was an adult, and it was on DVD, so probably within the last 20 years.

      Wellllll I remember seeing Weird Science in my teens and didn't think it was very funny back then, which is why I didn't go back to revisit again! But yes, I do remember seeing My Science Project when it was screened at a science fiction convention back in 1986 or 1987 (on laserdisc!) I haven't seen it since, so I'm definitely due for a revisit there as well. The other one that usually comes to mind is The Philadelphia Experiment, which I may have seen at the same convention, which is probably why I connect them. Might have to track them both down now!

      I have seen Special and I remember liking it quite a bit as both a commentary on superheroes as well as on mental illness.

    2. Funny that you mention Jon now on your terms, because I actually had a very brief contact with him about Frankenstein: The True Story not too long ago. Because I recently had the opportunity to rewatch it myself. First time I got to see it again since my kiddie days. Felt really good seeing this again. It really is a fine transformation of Shelley's original.

      The Philadelphia Experiment, for me, has absolutely no ties with Weird Science or My Science Project. The last two are clearly playing in the same thematic league. What I like so much about My Science Project, is that it's so much bigger in scope. All time traveling hell breaks loose at some point in the whole high school compound (as opposed to some teenagers making a party mess in their parental house) and there's even 'alien technology' in the mix which they dig up somewhere in the town's outskirts (as opposed to two teenagers performing a 'scientific experiment' when their parents aren't home). Simply put: My Science Project was always that 'much more amazing' film to me.

      Exactly. Why Special is one of the more unique and better "superhero" films out there, to my tastes. And an indie-forerunner in these matters, if you will. It keeps turning the table around, showing us both sides of that 'hero/mental' coin. Michael Rapaport was so splendidly cast in this one. Funny during his heroic escapades, tragically sad when we observe his mental struggles (often through other characters' reactions and comments).