Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Fool's Views (5/11 – 5/22)

I'm not sure if this "shower optional" thing is really working out...

Greetz, my fellow fiends!

Whilst wending our way through May, in addition to a quartet of excellent review assignments, interests wandered toward the “real deal” section of the viewing library, with four feature-length documentaries and two concert films making up half the titles! I’m not complaining, since all were quite engaging, but it was a little surprising when doing the final tally. I guess sometimes it’s nice to be able to choose your own version of real life, you know? Besides, I never really got to mourn/pay tribute to the late Neil Peart (R.I.P.) back in January, so I’m giving myself that gift now.

Along those lines, I’d like to take a quick moment to say thanks to everyone who has dropped in lately to see what I’ve been watching, with a Power Thank You to everyone who has seen fit to share reviews and links within their networks. Being that I’m more or less out of the social media maelstrom, it’s been a struggle at times to get the Views into the public consciousness, but with the help of dedicated folks with questionable tastes like yourselves, the Dr. AC machine keeps rolling on through good times and bad. Salute!

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



The Curse of the Werewolf (1961) d. Fisher, Terence (UK) (5th viewing)


The Projected Man (1966) d. Curteis, Ian (UK) (1st viewing)

Ever wonder what might have happened if the titular insect had not flown into the transporter device in 1958’s The Fly? Apparently so did screenwriters John Croydon (The Haunted Strangler) and Peter Bryan (The Plague of the Zombies), although this being a genre flick, things still go horribly awry when brilliant scientist Paul Steiner (Bryant Haliday) conceives a method of teleportation with his collaborators Patricia Hill (Mary Peach, later married to Hammer all-star Jimmy Sangster) and Chris Mitchel (Ronald Allen). After successfully beaming inorganic objects and eventually a chimpanzee across the room, Steiner’s big moment in front of the moneymen is sabotaged by his immediate superior (Norman Wooland), leading the frustrated scientist to attempt regain their confidence by projecting himself into the donors’ dinner party. Rather than ending up with a fly’s head and claw, Steiner instead shows up with half his face burned off and electrically charged such that he is now lethal to the touch.

Despite some decent monster makeup and decent production values, much of the proceedings play out like any other cheapie 1950s sci-fi flick, complete with bogus science, ho-hum love triangles, nefarious villains, and howler snippets of dialogue and plotting. To no surprise, it later ended up being skewered on MST3K, although it recently earned a legitimate Blu-ray release courtesy of Shout! Factory (with a special shout-out to Jon Kitley for finally sitting me down in front of it after years of seeing stills in various reference books).

Sword of God (aka The Mute) (2018) d. Konopka, Bartosz (Poland/Belgium) (2nd viewing)


Tigers Are Not Afraid (2017) d. Lopez, Issa (Mexico) (1st viewing)



Eddie Murphy: Delirious (1983) d. Gowers, Bruce (USA) (2nd viewing)

Already a Saturday Night Live MVP and having recently scored on the big screen with 48 Hours and Trading Places, the 22-year-old superstar is at the height of his powers, dazzling an enormous auditorium crowd with energetic riffs on sexuality, celebrity, shoe-throwing mothers, and farts in the bathtub. Some of the material is undoubtedly questionable (particularly regarding the gay community), though it ultimately feels more ignorant than deliberately mean-spirited.

The Quick and the Dead (1995) d. Raimi, Sam (USA) (4th viewing)

In search of a quick slice of comfort food with which to try out the new self-streaming service Kast with my pal Daniel, I reached into my saddlebag and came out with this spirited riff on Western tropes from the Evil Dead guy, starring Sharon Stone (the same year she was Oscar-nominated for Casino) as a vengeful gunfighter who arrives in town to compete in a quickdraw contest against a multitude of Hollywood character actors (Kevin Conway, Keith David, Mark Boone Junior, Lance Henriksen, Tobin Bell), Gene Hackman’s sinister overlord, Russell Crowe’s conflicted gunslinger-turned-priest, and a fresh-faced Leonardo DiCaprio. With overblown sound effects and Dante Spinotti’s whiplash cinematography, it’s a human cartoon and an enjoyable one at that. Raimi calmed down considerably afterwards, with three restrained efforts (For the Love the Game, A Simple Plan, and The Gift) before being handed the reins to the Spider-Man franchise in 2002.


Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life and Ghastly Death of Al Adamson (2019) d. Gregory, David (USA) (1st viewing)

Only a casual fan of the schlockmeister’s output (Dracula vs. Frankenstein, Nurse Sherri), I was surprised to learn the stranger-than-fiction story of his mysterious death and disappearance. Celebrated genre archivist Gregory (Lost Soul, Ban the Sadist Videos!) spotlights Adamson’s career and collaboration with producer Sam Sherman, with a parade of talking heads that includes John “Bud” Cardos, Gary Kent, Russ Tamblyn, Robert Dix, and Oscar-winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, who lensed a number of Adamson efforts (Blood of Ghastly Horror, Horror of the Blood Monsters, Five Bloody Graves) before going on to bigger and better things.

The Fly Papers: The Buzz on Hollywood’s Scariest Insect (2000) d. Burns, Kevin (USA) (1st viewing)

From James Clavell’s short story (originally published in Playboy magazine) to the 1958 feature’s smash box-office success to its sequels to its celebrated remake by David Cronenberg and its splatterific, dumbed-down follow-up, this made-for-TV special (narrated by Leonard Nimoy) takes us on a whirlwind and well-informed travelogue of all things Fly. Available as part of Shout! Factory’s The Fly Collection box set.


Circus of Books (2019) d. Mason, Rachel (USA) (1st viewing)

Terrific documentary about Barry and Karen Mason, a nice Jewish couple who just happened to inadvertently become the biggest distributors of gay porn in the U.S. during the 1980s and running the eponymous adult bookstore that served as the epicenter of Los Angeles gay society. Equally fascinating is their complicated relationship with their two sons, one of whom is homosexual, and their extroverted daughter Rachel (who directed), as well as Barry’s background as an inventor and special effects artist who worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey!

Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011) d. Gelb, David (USA) (1st viewing)

Jiro Ono, proprietor of Sukiyabashi Jiro (a 10-seat restaurant, located in a Tokyo subway station, where there is a three-month waiting list), is a master of his craft. In addition to lingering over the painstaking methods by which Jiro and his sons bring bite-sized, mouth-watering morsels of perfection to their customers’ mouths, Gelb’s documentary also raises the question of whether that perfection has been achieved at the expense of what most people would call Life.


Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage (2010) d. Dunn, Sam / MacFadyen, Scot (Canada) (2nd viewing)

Canadian rock’s best loved power trio celebrates 40 years of exemplary musicianship and elevated lyricism. Bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Geddy Lee, drummer non-pareill Neil Peart and lightning-fingered guitarist Alex Lifeson reminisce on their early days of opening for Kiss and their current status as elder statesmen in this glossy but expansive documentary about a band that cared not for sex and drugs… only the rock n’ roll.

Rush: A Show of Hands (1989) d. Jordan, Lawrence (Canada/USA) (1st viewing)

Shot over two nights in Birmingham, England, the lads bang through an impressive set in support of their 12th studio album, Hold Your Fire. While I consider HYF one of their weaker efforts, we are also treated to numerous selections from Signals, Grace Under Pressure, and Power Windows (three of my personal favorites), with highlights that include Peart’s five-minute drum solo known as “The Rhythm Method” and their smashing instrumental jam extension of “Closer to the Heart.”

2020 Totals to Date: 182 films, 129 first time views, 56 horror, 2 cinema


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