Sunday, August 30, 2020

Fool's Views (8/1 – 8/16)

There's 2020 in a nutshell for ya....

Howdy, folks!

As the summer sun starts falling beneath the horizon earlier and earlier with each passing day, it’s hard to believe that we’re only eight months into this crazy, crazy year. I’m not going to be the one to ask what the next four months might have in store because, honestly, I’m not all that sure I want to know.

The first half of August’s Horror Views were, as is often the case, highly influenced by the guiding hand of one Jon Kitley – he who loaned me several of the titles featured below, two of which I employed to complete my Kryptic Army mission in high style. For the Civilian quarter, a couple of rarely-discussed titles fell into my sights completely out of the blue, squaring off across secret agent exploits and dusty gunfighter tales.

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



All the Colors of the Dark (1972) d. Martino, Sergio (Italy/Spain) (3rd viewing)

For our fourth installment of Kicking the Seat’s "Accademia Giallo," Bryan (Film Deviant) and AC decided to introduce Ian to this wonderfully bonkers EuroShock masterpiece, which I dubbed “Rosemary’s Baby dunked in marinara sauce.” When pills and psychiatrists fail to resolve Edwige Fenech’s nightmares following a car accident (and subsequent miscarriage), she is persuaded to go all New Age, only to discover she’s been lured into a coven of lascivious Satanists. The lads’ ribald reveling and passionate discourse on what exactly constitutes an addition to the giallo subgenre can be seen IN ALL THE LIVING COLORS (that's right, baby, we're on the YouTubes!) via the link below:


Pyewacket (2017) d. Macdonald, Adam (Canada) (1st viewing)

After the tragic death of her father, Leah’s (Nicole Muñoz) already tempestuous relationship with her mother is strained to the breaking point when Mrs. Reyes (Laurie Holden) announces that they will be pulling up stakes to move “up north.” The grieving widow hopes to escape constant reminders of her former life and love, but her act of self-preservation is viewed as a betrayal by her daughter, one that isolates Leah from her friends and minimal social life. One night, following a particularly vicious fight, the wounded teen heads into the woods to cast a fatal black magic spell; it’s an act she almost immediately regrets, but being unconvinced that such rituals have any genuine effect, she waits to see what happens… with terrifying results.

Writer/director Macdonald takes a huge leap forward from his previous “hikers chased by bear” effort Backcountry, presenting simple scenarios and identifiable characters with which we empathize, slowly ratcheting up the tension and wisely keeping the manifested titular evil spirit to the corners of the frame. Both Muñoz and Holden are in fine form, forging a realistic and complicated mother/daughter relationship that keeps the viewer invested in both of their fates, such that the emotional boot-to-the-head climax resonates long and strong.


Bloodlust! (1961) d. Brooke, Ralph (USA) (1st viewing)


The Burning Court (1962) d. Duvivier, Julien (France/Italy) (1st viewing)



The Brink’s Job (1978) d. Friedkin, William (USA) (1st viewing)

Following the critical and financial disaster of Sorcerer (an ill-advised remake of Georges Franju’s much-lauded The Wages of Fear), Friedkin opted for this slight but amiable retelling of the notorious 1950 robbery of Brink’s Incorporated, a $2.7 million score that captured the imagination of the American public and sparked a $29 million investigation by the F.B.I. when J. Edgar Hoover declared it an elaborate plot to fund the Communist party. With a likable ensemble of players (Peter Falk, Peter Boyle, Warren Oates, Allen Garfield, Paul Sorvino, Gena Rowlands) and a loosey-goosey energy to the central caper, it plays like a perfectly decent TV-movie as opposed to the work of a major Hollywood player, which could be why it’s rarely discussed today.

Le Golem (1967) d. Kerchbron, Jean (France) (1st viewing)

Pitched as a horror film (based upon the same Slavic legend as the 1920 classic directed by and starring Paul Wegener), this is an exercise in cinematic innovation both in terms of its fractured, disjointed narrative and the bold lighting schemes and black-and-white cinematography that belie its humble French TV-movie origins. Our main character (Andre Reybaz) mistakenly switches hats with a fellow church attendee and finds that in wearing it, he acquires access to the other man's dreams that night, a nightmare that involves murder, conspiracy, and forbidden love affairs. Despite the ambition and technical mastery on display, it ultimately proves too long and too impenetrable by half to hold this viewer’s attentions, although I might someday be persuaded to revisit it as a double feature with Last Year at Marienbad, to which it invariably invites comparison.


My Darling Clementine (1946) d. Ford, John (USA) (2nd viewing)

Henry Fonda teams up with Victor Mature as Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday for this melodramatic (and historically dubious) telling of the events of October 26, 1881. It marked Ford’s first Western since 1939’s Stagecoach, his fourth collaboration with Fonda following Drums Along the Mohawk, Young Mr. Lincoln, and The Grapes of Wrath, and proved to be a rousing success for both, their first post-WWII effort. Despite the film’s much-beloved reputation and high critical standing, I find it meandering and oddly paced, with Mature’s charisma-free presence sucking all the air out of the room whenever the story focuses on the love triangle between prim and proper fiancee Clementine (Cathy Downs), to whom Earp also takes a shine and fiery “half-breed” dance-hall mistress Chihuahua (Linda Darnell in brownface). Ford stock company members Ward Bond and Tim Holt play Morgan and Virgil Earp, with Walter Brennan tearing up the scenery as the ill-tempered Clanton patriarch and Ma Joad herself, Jane Darwell, putting in a brief cameo as a troubled townsperson.

Tombstone (1993) d. Cosmatos, George P. (USA) (2nd viewing)

When it first bowed in 1993, I remembered this being a perfectly enjoyable modern Western, with plenty of shoot-em-up action, Peckinpah-inspired splatter, and a memorable turn by Val Kilmer as perpetually soused tubercular lawman Doc Holliday, legendarily dry of tongue and quick of draw. (This was before the actor’s egomaniacal antics on The Island of Dr. Moreau and The Saint got him booted off the Hollywood A-List.) However, over the following quarter-century, it’s inexplicably grown in “classic” reputation, with people citing it as one of their favorite films of all time. I’m still not sure what they’re seeing, but it’s hard not to be impressed by an all-star cast list where the first 20-odd names have now headlined their own films at some point. It remains one of Kilmer’s finest showcase roles, with great support from Sam Elliott, Powers Booth, and especially Michael Biehn as sneering gunslinger Johnny Ringo.

I was surprised that the fabled OK Corral gunfight marks only the halfway point of the 2+ hour running time – however, this is not necessarily a good thing. Tombstone is a movie with no regard for momentum or pacing, its second act comprised of an endless parade of scenes featuring a woefully miscast Kurt Russell and his outrageous mustache doggedly chasing down baddies. (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Russell may in reality be a guy who is tough, but he’s rarely a convincing tough guy onscreen.) While Cosmatos is credited as having replaced original director (and screenwriter) Kevin Jarre, there have been some reports that Russell helmed a goodly portion of the picture himself.


Casino Royale (2006) d. Campbell, Martin (UK/USA/Germany/Czech) (3rd viewing)

Revisiting the first two chapters of the “rebirth of Bond,” with Daniel Craig in the tux, it’s easy to see why people were so enthusiastic to have a no-nonsense secret agent on the job, one more akin to Jason Bourne than Inspector Gadget. Casino Royale kicks off with an amazing parkour-inspired foot chase and never looks back, setting the standard for what action films could be, aided immeasurably by the presence of Mads Mikkelsen as blood-crying supervillain Le Chiffre and a legit emotional relationship between Bond and Vesper Lynn (Eva Green). It’s impressive to look back and realize that Campbell (Goldeneye) successfully rebooted not one but two new incarnations of 007, and even more so when you consider how different those incarnations were.

Quantum of Solace (2008) d. Foster, Marc (UK/USA) (3rd viewing)

It’s no surprise that this follow-up (which is, in fact, a direct sequel – a rarity within the Bond universe) had a hard time measuring up, though it delivers some incredible action sequences – the opening chase that climaxes with both participants swinging from scaffolding belongs on some Top 10 List somewhere – and a complex female lead (Olga Kurylenko) whose marvelous character arc nearly eclipses Bond’s story. Mathieu Almaric does fine as our main baddie, but the wide stripe of pettiness within his water-hoarding megalomania makes him less interesting in the roster of Bond villains – the axe-swinging hysteria in the fiery finale feels like a desperate, outclassed man rather than a true god battle. Of greater interest is secondary villain General Madrano, assayed by criminally undervalued Mexican character actor Joaquín Cosio, although his recent higher-profile turns in the demonic horror film Belzebuth and Rambo: Last Blood indicate his star might still have some rise left in it. A film that improves a bit upon each viewing, QoS is likely better than you remembered it to be.

2020 Totals to Date: 262 films, 182 first time views, 83 horror, 2 cinema



  1. I should give Tombstone a watch. It's been a super long time.

    1. As I mentioned, I hadn't been back to watch it since it first came out, so I was definitely due for a revisit, especially considering how it had risen in public estimation. Be curious to hear how it hits you this time.

  2. Thanks for arousing my interest in Pyewacket. Was previously aware of only its title and poster. But your favorable praises are already noticeable and palpable in the trailer (just watched it now). On my to-see list now!

    All The Colors Of The Dark. Caught up with this one in more recent years as well (must have been early 2018). Great disorientating blend of occult strangeness, delivering some typical Italian spices in the mix. Wonderful soundtrack by Bruno Nicolai as well. Fun hearing/seeing you guys doing a Kicking the Seat chats on it!

    1. Pyewacket is definitely an interesting view - it's not a home run, but it's a solid hit.

      Thanks for listening to the show, buddy!