Thursday, October 1, 2020

Fool's Views (9/1 – 9/30)

"Um, it's a month early for Trick or Treat. GO AWAY."

Howdy, folks!

A quick glance at the calendar should let you know that we’re kicking off the October Horror Movie Challenge and SCARE-A-THON 2020 in a matter of hours and it’s going to be a great month, with Friday Night Frights on YouTube, special guests, and daily reviews, all in service of raising much-needed funds for Boxville, Chicago’s first (and community operated) shipping container mall. Let’s put September to bed and get rolling!

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



The Beast Must Die (1974) d. Annett, Paul (UK) (2nd viewing)


The Hunt (2020) d. Zobel, Craig (USA) (1st viewing)

Zobel, the writer/director of 2012’s engaging if problematic Compliance (reviewed here) is back behind the camera again, this time in service of a similarly political, yet much more playful horror effort, one that skewers both sides of the snowflake/deplorable divide. The premise is deceptively simple: A group of had-it-up-to-here liberals kidnap a group of select hardcore right-wingers, turn them loose in the countryside, and proceed to hunt them down like the “animals they are.”

The fact that it is our “gun-hating bleeding hearts” who are the ones doling out the punishment is but one of the many surprises that Zobel and screenwriters Nick Cuse and Damon Lidelof have up their sleeves, and they are well served by an excellent cast that includes a two-time Oscar winner (Hillary Swank, Boys Don’t Cry) and a three-time Emmy nominee (Betty Gilpin, Glow) leading the charge on either side of the conflict.(Kudos to stunt coordinator Heidi Moneymaker for the wingding final reel brawl.) Smart, bloody, action-packed, literary, and guaranteed to spark a few conversations, this is another winner from Blumhouse worth taking for a spin.

The New York Ripper (1982) d. Fulci, Lucio (Italy) (4th viewing)

Kicking the Seat’s Accademia Giallo series continues as Bryan (Film Deviant) and AC push Ian off the deep end for Italian gore maestro Fulci’s giallo/slasher featuring women of “low moral character” falling victim to a killer armed with razor blades, butcher knives, broken bottles, and… a quacking duck voice. If you’re sick of the heavy-breathing, hulking, mute brute and/or the wise-cracking chatterbox psycho, this skeevy little thriller might just be your ferry ticket. Click the links below – you know you want to.



The Phantom of the Opera (1962) d. Fisher, Terence (UK) (2nd viewing)



Eyeball (1975) d. Lenzi, Umberto (Italy) (1st viewing)

A group of American tourists seeing the sight of Barcelona are targeted by a red-gloved killer with a penchant for slashing and dashing and tarrying only long enough to puncture the victim’s left eye as a calling card. With a literal busload of suspects and a cranky veteran cop (retiring in a week) on the case, this is an admirably energetic and playful entry in the giallo sweepstakes, one of the last entries of the Italian heyday and Lenzi’s final effort in the subgenre.

While not terribly bloody or scary or artfully directed (outside of Barcelona’s natural charms, since the film doubles as a travelogue – why let a string of murders get in the way of your vacation?), it does manage to keep things lively and suspenseful since Lenzi makes pretty much everyone look suspicious at some point, from Mirta Miller’s (Count Dracula’s Great Love, Dr. Jekyll vs. the Werewolf) sexy photographer to George Rigaud’s (Horror Express, All the Colors of the Dark) seemingly benevolent man of the cloth to exotic model Ines Pellegrini (the same year she appeared as “The Slave Girl” in Pasolini’s Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom) to Hammer and Italian horror mainstay John Richardson (One Million Years B.C., The Vengeance of She, Black Sunday, Torso) as a businessman having an affair with his secretary (Martine Brochard) who suspects his estranged wife (Marta May) is behind it all.

There’s nothing particularly notable about Eyeball – it’s another giallo, no more or less – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a lot of fun.

Eye See You (2002) d. Gillespie, James (USA) (1st viewing)



The Cheyenne Social Club (1970) d. Kelly, Gene (USA) (1st viewing)

Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda share the screen in this lighthearted but wildly problematic (at least to 2020 eyes) Western about a cowpoke who inherits a brothel from his ne’er-do-well brother and proceeds to close it down, only to raise the ire of every single person in town, including the saloon girls who apparently love love love their work. Yeeeeeeeeeeeesh.

Django Unchained (2012) d. Tarantino, Quentin (USA) (2nd viewing)

Revisiting Tarantino’s revisionist Western, I’m still stunned that it ended up being nominated for all the Oscar love and won Best Original Screenplay because, well, it’s got some serious problems. Not least of which being the fact that its lead is not the most compelling character in the film and that it’s about 20 minutes longer than it needs to be. Leonardo di Caprio is acting his butt off trying to get that Supporting Actor statuette that his cool-headed co-star Christoph Waltz effortlessly snagged (though, really, it’s Samuel L. Jackson’s slyly sinister manservant who should have been walking up the aisle that night). Meanwhile, Jamie Foxx is terrific in his badass stoic way, but he’s fairly one-note throughout, which is surprising considering the opportunities afforded him. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy Django's twists, turns, snaps, pops, crackles, and giant exploding blood squibs, because I did, but I also can’t ignore the fact that, like the great percentage of QT’s flicks, there are a lot of quibbles to be had getting from A to Z.

The Dresser (1983) d. Yates, Peter (UK) (9th viewing)

Endlessly quotable and flawlessly performed love letter to the stage, with Albert Finney in one of his greatest turns as the aging star/manager of an itinerant Shakespearan theatre company during WWII in England and his dutiful, long-suffering, and oft-neglected servant Norman, played to perfection by Tom Courtenay (recreating his Tony-nominated Broadway performance).

Rhinestone (1984) d. Clark, Bob (USA) (1st viewing)

Reading about Eye See You’s terrible critical reception, time and again I heard the phrase, “...but at least it’s no Rhinestone.” Well, having more or less recovered from Sly in July, I figured it was finally worth stepping up to the plate and seeing what everyone was talking about. Holy. Moley. The Pygmalion-inspired storyline of a Country/Western singer (Dolly Parton) being bet that she can’t transform an NYC cab driver (Stallone) into a top-shelf stage sensation has its possibilities, but no one counted on the live-wire, more-is-more, obnoxious-IS-funny approach that the musclebound star was planning to bring to the table.

Considering that Parton, Ron Liebman, Tim Thomerson, and Richard Farnsworth are all lovely in their own ways, I really can’t blame director Clark (who had already demonstrated his comedy chops with Porky’s and A Christmas Story) for not being able to contain his star’s ego – this is Sly, after all, who had just gifted the world with Staying Alive. It’s light-years from anything resembling good, but there is a certain train wreck appeal to it all. (I offer this “Tutti Fruiti clip” as Exhibit A.)


Hamilton: One Shot to Broadway (2017) d. Espana, Elio (UK) (1st viewing)

Speaking of stage triumphs, this breezy documentary tracks the artistic and commercial musical juggernaut that transformed Broadway and turned its writer/star Lin-Manuel Miranda into a household name.

The Need to Grow (2019) d. Herring, Rob / Wirick, Ryan (USA) (1st viewing)

Co-directors Herring and Wirick dig deep into the problem with the world’s soil, in that it’s been overfarmed and overlooked and mistreated such that we probably won’t be able to grow anything within the next 60 years. Nothing to worry about, right?

Rush: R30 (2005) d. Lamoreux, Pierre (Canada/USA) (1st viewing)

Capturing the Canadian rock gods in Frankfort whilst celebrating their third decade as a band, this 2+ hour set list includes such classics as “Tom Sawyer,” “Limelight,” and “Spirit of Radio,” as well as a few cover tracks such as “The Seeker” and “Summertime Blues.” (They were touring in support of their album, Feedback, comprised of other artists’ material.) Everyone is in top form, with the real stars being the active washing and drying machines running in the background on Geddy’s side of the stage, put there as a joke to balance Alex’s huge stack of amplifiers and Neil’s epic drum set. (The band tosses out the laundry to the crowd at the end of the night. I mean, come on. I love these guys.)


Double Team (1997) d. Hark, Tsui (Hong Kong/USA) (2nd viewing)

A holdover from our June-Claude Van Damme festival that finally showed up, there’s absolutely nothing essential about this routine actioneer, unless you were dying to see Tsui Hark’s (Once Upon a Time in China) English language debut mangled by JCVD and NBA superstar Dennis Rodman (making his big screen bow). Rourke is physically jacked way up as our bad guy with his personality turned way down, making for an unusual casting choice. But hey, there are CGI tigers and missiles and soooooo many bad basketball puns that you might not even notice.

13 (2010) d. Babluani, Gela (USA) (1st viewing)

An English language remake of Babluani’s festival sensation 13 Tzameti (reviewed here), with the writer/director making a few changes in the script, mostly to give his an impressive cast something to do to justify their paychecks. Rourke, in particular, is the beneficiary of these rewrites, but ultimately his storyline proves almost a distraction to the primary narrative thread that follows hapless strapped-for-cash Ohio lad Sam Riley to a mysterious farmhouse in the woods to engage in a lethal game of chance.


Man on Fire (2004) d. Scott, Tony (USA) (1st viewing)

Oh Dear God In Heaven Tony Why Are You Using So Many Pointless ZOOMS And FILTERS And EFFECTS And TEXT ON THE SCREEN When You Have A Perfectly Decent Thriller On Your Hands With A More Than Capable Cast? I Mean, JESUS.

True Romance (1993) d. Scott, Tony (USA) (5th and 6th viewings)

Ahem. I like this one quite a bit more.


The Ladykillers (1955) d. Mackendrick, Alexander (UK) (2nd viewing)

Posing as a group of musical aficionados, a gang of thugs planning to rob an armored car set up camp at the humble estate of a sweet little old lady (Katie Johnson) and hysterical mishaps ensue. Alec Guinness plays the buck-toothed leader, with Herbert Lom, Peter Sellers, Cecil Parker, and Danny Green rounding out the cast, with an Oscar-nominated script by Bernard Rose.

The Man in the White Suit (1951) d. Mackendrick, Alexander (UK) (1st viewing)

Guinness, having already made his Ealing name with Kind Hearts and Coronets two years prior, returned to the studio for a 1951 double-header of The Lavender Hill Mob and this enjoyably silly yet surprisingly poignant fantasy about an eccentric chemist who concocts a textile formula that repels dirt and wrinkles. Said invention understandably rocks the establishment; the executives see it as a threat to their profits and the workers view it as a threat to their jobs! “Why can’t you scientists leave things alone?”

2020 Totals to Date: 294 films, 200 first time views, 94 horror, 2 cinema


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