Thursday, December 27, 2012

Goodies in the Mail

Killer Joe, the latest from director William Friedkin.

Thanks, Lions Gate!

...Review coming soon...


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My Christmas Haul

 I found these creepy little fellas in my stocking.  They're sort of undead, holiday versions of the M.U.S.C.L.E. Men I used to collect as a youngster.

 The latest Michael Chabon novel, which I will get started on the moment that I finish Anno Dracula: Dracula Cha Cha Cha by Kim Newman, which I am currently embroiled in.  Also, an adorable Incredible Hulk bookmark to help keep my place.  Losing your page makes Hulk angry...and you wouldn't like him when he's angry.

Hulk also doesn't like it when his Mountain Dew gets warm.

I love The Big Bang Theory.  BAZINGA!

 Part freak.  Part geek.  All week.

 And what Christmas is complete without socks?

I also received some Amazon gift cards which I will be putting towards purchasing a new Kindle Fire to replace my outdated, flameless Kindle from years back.

Hope all you hipsters had happy holidays!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Nice Find At The Used Bookstore

The wife and I had a little free time in our schedule today, so we decided to swing by the local used book store, where I traded in a shopping bag of old, unwanted books for substantial credit and found this little gem.

The limited edition Cemetery Dance hardcover of Peter Straub's fantastic PORK PIE HAT, signed and numbered.

For only $7.00.

A hell of a find.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Movie Review: Waxwork 2: Lost In Time (1992)

Waxwork 2: Lost In Time
WAXWORK 2: LOST IN TIME - Wax figure horror - movie poster

Written & Directed by Anthony Hickox

Mark...Zach Galligan
Sarah...Monika Schnarre

Picking up directly where the original left off, this sequel has the two survivors, Mark and Sarah, fleeing from the flaming wreckage of the wax museum, unaware of the fact that a strange creature from the homicidal exhibits has escaped as a well--a dismembered hand with a life of its own.

It follows Sarah home and promptly murders her white trash stepfather--a crime for which she is put on trial.  The jury doesn't believe this crazy story about evil museums and killer hands, of course, so they open up a dimensional doorway and hop through like Alice through the looking glass in order to locate and bring back some kind of proof.

And from there, it's more of the same nonsense as our "heroes" hop from era to era, striving to put right what once went wrong.  They spend some time in the Victorian past (a la Frankenstein), the distant future (a la Aliens), and way too much time in a medieval land, each time barely saving the universe and themselves.

Like I said, it's more of the same, and so the same problems plague this film as the original.  The FX are better, and the acting and scripting aren't so over-the-top, but again the film is virtually schizophrenic, bouncing from utter slapstick--witness the (welcome) appearance of Bruce Campbell--and taking itself far to seriously--as in the Aliens riff.  It seems as if the filmmakers only wanted to make the best parts of a dozen different films, so that's what they did, tossing them together with a patchwork plot.

Rated R
104 Minutes
United States

"Don't worry, it's only a flesh wound."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Movie Review: Waxwork (1988)

WAXWORK - wax museum horror movie - Poster image

Written & Directed by Anthony Hickox

Mark...Zach Galligan
Sarah...Deborah Foreman

A group of over-privileged and under-disciplined stock characters attend a private midnight showing of the mysterious new waxwork that has just opened in the neighborhood.  Once inside, they find that it is actually a museum of the macabre, with exhibits showcasing scenes of vampires, werewolves, living mummies, etc.  One by one, these spoiled and obnoxious shits stumble blindly into the exhibits and find themselves transported to a different world where the scenes are all too real, and they are--surprise, surprise--mere fodder.

The acting is lackluster, the creature effects cheesy, the set-pieces are elaborately over-the-top and cheap like a soap opera's idea of a period piece, and the pseudo-cool 1980s dialogue and attitude is painfully dated.  One might say that the saving grace here is the tongue-in-cheek manner in which the film presents itself--we can't take it too seriously because it doesn't take itself seriously--but that is a half-truth at best.

Strangely, the scenes that take place in the "real" world are hokey and jokey, with a self-effacing sense of humor that leads you to believe this is some sort of dark satire.  But when the characters enter into the exhibit worlds, suddenly the tone changes and we're supposed to believe that we're watching a real horror movie--an illusion I just couldn't buy into.

The trio of waxwork employees were suitably creepy, and there were a couple of highlights throughout the film--a gross dinner scene involving 'steak tartar' (yeah right) and an all-too-brief Night of the Living Dead-inspired scene--but overall, I'd rather pay to see Madame Tussauds.

She's got Lady Gaga, after all.  Talk about scary!

Rated R
95 Minutes
United States

"They'll make a movie about anything nowadays."

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Movie Review: I Love You, Alice B. Toklas (1968)

I Love You, Alice B. Toklas
I LOVE YOU, ALICE B. TOKLAS - Counter-Culture Comedy - Movie Poster

Written by Paul Mazurksy & Larry Tucker
Directed by Hy Averback

Harold...Peter Sellers
Herbie...David Arkin
Nancy...Leigh Taylor-Young

I LOVE YOU, ALICE B. TOKLAS - Counter-Culture Comedy - Title Screen

As much as uptight asthmatic lawyer Harold is repulsed by the hippie subculture, it seems equally drawn to him.  After a freak accident puts his car out of commission, he's stuck with the only loaner that the shop had left in stock: an old wagon painted up in psychedelic stylings, looking like one part Mystery Machine, one part Partridge Family bus, and one part Merry Prankster's Further.  Almost immediately following this, Harold is reunited with his brother Herbie, a flower child residing in Venice Beach, and he develops some infatuation with his brother's hippie chick girlfriend Nancy.  Nevermind the fact that Harold is already engaged to Joyce.

Nancy bakes Harold a batch of "groovy" brownies, and before you can say Barney Miller, Harold inadvertently shares them with his fiance and parents.  Still reeling from the wacky tobacky, Harold abandons his old life and plunges head first into Wonderland.

This wacky little flick is populated with kooky characters and a bleak, bitter sense of humor.  It seemed almost like an old Woody Allen film taking place among the California hippies instead of the New York intelligentsia.

I LOVE YOU, ALICE B. TOKLAS - Counter-Culture Comedy - Filthy Hippies

I had a lot of fun throughout, despite the lack of a solid story, and enjoyed it many times more than I thought I would.  It was a smart, biting satire of a subculture that was destined to consume itself,, and the most interesting thing is that there seems to be a sense of legitimacy here.  The filmmakers appear to have had at least a peripheral knowledge of the scene they're mocking, or at the very least were very good at faking it, which is a rarity for these types of films.

On a side note, no, you're not missing something--there is no character named Alice B. Toklas here.  She was a real person who wrote a cookbook upon which this movie is hinged.

Double-bill this with Lord Love A Duck for two times the subversive fun.

Any movie that references Allen Ginsberg in the first 30 seconds is aces in my book.

Rated R
92 Minutes
United States

"Mondo teeth.  What a concept!"

Friday, December 14, 2012

Netflix Streaming Top Five

Heya, Hipsters!

It's time for another Instant Watch Update.  Here are the top 5 films available to stream on Netflix that are currently on my radar.  Jonny tested, Jonny approved.

Drive: A Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver is lured from his isolated life by a lovely neighbor and her young son. His newfound peace is shattered, however, when her violent husband is released from prison.

Buried: While on a job in Iraq, civilian contractor Paul Conroy is attacked and kidnapped, then awakens to find himself buried alive in the middle of the desert with nothing but a lighter, a candle, a cell phone and a knife.

Memento: Suffering short-term memory loss after a head injury, Leonard Shelby embarks on a grim quest to find out who murdered his wife. Shelby snaps Polaroids of people and places, jotting down contextual notes on the backs of photos to aid in his search.

Marathon Man: When his CIA agent brother (Roy Scheider) is killed, graduate student Babe Levy (Dustin Hoffman) finds himself trapped in a deadly game with a Nazi fugitive (Laurence Olivier), a sadist who uses dental instruments as tools of torture in this Oscar-nominated film based on William Goldman's novel. As Levy turns from pacifist to street-smart cynic, director John Schlesinger's thriller barrels toward its fever-pitched conclusion.

The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane: Living by herself in her father's house, resourceful 13-year-old Rynn Jacobs will do anything to remain independent and to keep anyone from discovering what she's hiding in the cellar, as her prying landlady finds out.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Movie Review: The Hills Run Run (2009)

The Hills Run Red
THE HILLS RUN RED - movie poster

Tyler...Tad Hilgenbrink
Alexa...Sophie Monk
Wilson Wyler Concannon...William Sadler

Film blogger Tyler has grown obsessed with a mythical horror film entitled The Hills Run Red.  It played briefly in theaters a few decades ago, but was promptly pulled due to controversy over its graphic and realistic portrayals of sadistic violence.  With the home video market being what it is today, one would expect The Hills Run Red to have found its niche upon re-release, but once it was pulled from theaters, a print of the film was never seen again.  Even stranger, no members of the cast have ever been located, nor has the director been heard from.  All that remains behind, the only proof that the movie ever actually existed, is the original trailer and a few still photographs, and the fading memories of those who had seen it upon its initial release.  And they claim it was the most frightening film they had ever seen.

THE HILLS RUN RED - Babyface killer

No wonder Tyler wants to learn the truth behind this modern myth.  Everyone needs a Holy Grail.

Tyler, his girlfriend, and his best friend locate the strung-out stripper daughter of the director and convince her to take them on a journey to uncover the truth: that maybe, just maybe, the movie wasn't just a movie after all.

THE HILLS RUN RED - strung-out stripper

The premise is a surprisingly good one, and original to boot.  It's just too bad that the execution didn't live up to its promise.  There was a lot of raw, untapped potential here, but it went slightly south and ended up too predictable and less than believable.  That isn't to say that I didn't enjoy the film--I did--but it should have been something more than it was, like a promising student who winds up pumping gas for a living.

This film was released with a modicum of fanfare among the Blogger Horror Society, but with proper marketing, it could have been much bigger.  Had they played up the mystery angle prior to its release--leaked the trailer for the film-within-the-film, and it had gone viral, for instance--it could have generated quite a bit of buzz, but as it stands, no one outside of horror fandom seems to know that this movie was ever even made.

With its great concept and some strong performances, one can overlook its flaws and see that it is, if nothing else, the best movie from production house Dark Castle that doesn't involve CCH Pounder and a murderous Russian orphan.

THE HILLS RUN RED - the pretty young cast

Rated R
81 Minutes
United States


Monday, December 10, 2012

Movie Review: V/H/S (2012)

V/H/S - anthology horror film - movie poster

With certain notable exceptions, I've never been a big fan of the anthology film format. The quality of the stories always vary from segment to segment, and more often than not the wraparound story is just a lame attempt at bringing multiple disjointed works into a single cohesive units. As a whole, the film tends to be an uneven experience, and just difficult for me to appreciate as a singular work of art.

I am, however, a fan of found-footage films. They have a way of drawing me into the story that a more cinematic method fails to do. When something uncanny or unusual is shown via amateurish or non-cinematic camera work, it somehow seems to me more real and less like a special effect.

So right off the bat, this movie had one plus and one minus in my mind, which pretty much put it at an even playing field when I popped it into my DVD player for the first time. There was a lot of positive buzz, followed by a lot of negative backlash, for this movie and I carefully avoided it all. I wanted to go in fresh.

V/H/S - anthology horror film - Tape 56

The wraparound story (Tape 56, directed by Adam Wingard) involves a group of low-level thugs and amateur pornographers who are hired by persons unknown to break into a house and steal a specific video tape. Once there, they find the corpse of the homeowner and a number of VHS tapes. They play the tapes, looking for the one they were hired to steal, and each of these tapes delivers to us another story.

Amateur Night directed by David Bruckner
Three of the most despicable, obnoxious douchebags that I have ever had the displeasure of seeing hit the night club scene with a pair of spy glasses, hoping to bring some drunken co-eds back to their hotel room and capture their sexcapades on tape. Two out of the three bag a babe, but back in their room, one passes out before much of anything can happen and the other is much more than they bargained for. It would have been enjoyable if I didn't hate every last one of the principal characters 30 seconds after the segment started.

V/H/S - anthology horror film - Amateur Night

Second Honeymoon directed by Ti West
A married couple on vacation in Arizona refuse to give a hitchhiking woman a ride, and thereafter a mysterious stranger sneaks into their room and films them while they sleep. It features some truly creepy moments (reminiscent of Evil Things), a truly gory one, and a twist ending that is relatively silly. But at least the main characters are likable this time around.

Tuesday the 17th directed by Glenn McQuaid
The title isn't the only part of this segment that is a riff on Friday the 13th. In typical slasher fashion, a group of horny, pot-smoking young people visit a rural location and find themselves stalked by an unstoppable killer. For whatever reason, the killer's image is unable to be captured on video, so he's represented by a lot of digital distortion and a mess of pixelation. Unfortunately, changing the camera perspective doesn't mean anything new is brought to the table.

The Sick Thing That Happened To Emily When She Was Younger directed by Joe Swanberg
This entire segment is shot using video chat software and follows a woman who is trying to convince her long-distance boyfriend that her apartment is haunted. It offers a few chilling glimpses of spirit children running through the background, but a simple and effective premise was ruined for me by a convoluted and unexplored twist ending.

V/H/S - anthology horror film - The Sick Thing That Happened To Emily When She Was Younger

10/31/98 directed by Radio Silence
A group of male friends on their way to a Halloween party find themselves at the wrong house in an unfamiliar neighborhood. Not comprehending their mistake, they explore the house. The initial spooky happenings are laughed off as Halloween tricks, but there are some things that simply can't be denied. It is a batshit crazy take on haunted houses and urban legends, and was probably my favorite of all the segments.

All said and done, it was a pretty good little flick even if it didn't live up to all the hype. There were quite a few chilling moments, and although not all of the stories were home runs, the ones that worked outweighed the ones that didn't. I'll probably watch this one again, at least certain segments, and I'm looking forward to the impending sequel.

Rated R
116 Minutes
United States

"I like you."

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Movie Review: Fourteen Hours (1951)

Fourteen Hours
FOURTEEN HOURS - vintage suspense film - Movie Poster

Written by John Paxton
Directed by Henry Hathaway

Charlie Dunnigan...Paul Douglas
Robert Cosick...Richard Basehart
Virginia Foster...Barbara Bel Geddes

FOURTEEN HOURS - vintage suspense film - Title Screen

St. Patrick's Day in New York City.  The fifteenth floor of the Rodney Hotel.  The Ledge.

That's where young and jittery Robert Cosick has taken his perch while he works through a few familial issues in his mind and kicks around the idea of suicide.  Flatfoot traffic cop Charlie Dunnigan is the first on the scene and his straight-shooting colloquial nature quickly builds a rapport with the frightened young man, so much so that even when the place is swarming with high-level fuzz and professionals duly qualified to deal with these kinds of situations, Robert wants nothing to do with anyone else.

Coached by his brash sergeant, an over-educated psychiatrist, and his own innate gift of gab, Dunnigan finds himself in the unlikely position of having to save this boy's life--a far cry from writing traffic tickets and directing taxis in and out of hack stations.

FOURTEEN HOURS - vintage suspense film - Robert and Dunnigan

I'm a bit of a sucker for these old-school suspense yarns, with their kooky characters and archaic tough guy attitudes.  I went into this movie having never heard of it, and having read only the single line synopsis supplied by Turner Classic Movies, so I really wasn't sure what to expect.  I was more than pleasantly surprised.  I was damn near blown away.

Despite the fact that the entire movie essentially takes place in a few singular locations stacked one atop the other (the street, the hotel room, the ledge), there's no shortage of characters here.  In fact, it seems to be a cast of millions, from the aggravated cab drivers stuck in traffic and taking bets on what time Robert will make the jump, to the philosophical Romeo using the madcap scene to make time with some pretty little onlooker, and the reporters out for a story with the old "If it bleeds, it leads" mentality.  But the real selling point is Paul Douglas as Officer Dunnigan, the kind of police officer you don't often see depicted in the media anymore.  A good, honest cop just trying to do a little good in the world.  As much as I like a Vic Mackey, the world still needs a Dunnigan.

There's not much action here, to be honest.  It's a very character-driven and dialogue-driven tale.  But the characters and dialogue are so spot-on that your nerves will be rattled and you'll be biting your nails in suspense.  It's amazing what a little emotional investment can do.  As the son of a suicide, I've automatically got a morbid fascination with the subject (although, to be fair, if it was a movie about a man threatening to hang himself, I probably wouldn't be able to stomach it), and it was refreshing to see it treated in a tasteful, serious, and believable way.

Highly recommended, Hipsters.

Rated PG
92 Minutes
United States


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Movie Review: Marathon Man (1976)

Marathon Man
MARATHON MAN - Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Olivier - Movie Poster

Written by William Goldman
Directed by John Schlesinger

Babe...Dustin Hoffman
Szell...Laurence Olivier
Doc...Roy Scheider

MARATHON MAN - Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Olivier - Pacifist No More

Stop me if you've heard this one:  A Jew and a German walk into a bar.  Well, okay, they don't walk into a bar, but they do get into their respective cars, get into a little racially-fueled road rage, and die a horrible, fiery death following a collision with an oil truck.  Pretty good punchline, eh?

This horrific event kicks off our story, and from there we meet liberal pacifist grad student Babe Levy, whose girlfriend may or may not be what she claims, and whose brother Doc is a covert government agent killed in the line of duty.  Immediately following his violent demise, Babe finds himself on the run from Szell, a sadistic Nazi war criminal--a former dentist with a passion for oral trauma.  He's willing to torture and kill for the answer to a single question, an answer that Babe doesn't have.

MARATHON MAN - Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Olivier - Dental Torture

"Is it safe?"

But, as always, there's only so much poking and prodding a man can take before you hit a nerve--in this case, quite literally--and Babe shakes loose from his pacifistic shackles in hopes of turning the tables on his ratzi tormentor.

Truth be told, this movie is like an old Mustang.  It takes a short while to warm up, but once it gets going it purrs like a kitten and takes you for one hell of a ride.  Although it's more intrigue and suspense than horror, that doesn't make Szell any less of a terrifying character, and you'll root (canal) for his comeuppance just as sure as you'll cringe at his medieval practices.  This could easily be seen as an offshoot of the Survivalist Film, or, if you squint hard enough, a predecessor to the Torture Porn subgenre.  It's Hostel...with a storyline. Who would have even thought it possible?

MARATHON MAN - Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Olivier - Szell

With rock solid performances from all of the dependable leads and admirable direction, this movie has a shiny payoff that you'll want to see, so don't let the rusty warm-up period throw you off.

Rated R
125 Minutes
United States

Is it safe?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Goodies In The Mail


...Review coming soon...

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Twonky on TCM Underground TONIGHT

That's right.  The Twonky.

1953's odd little flick The Twonky is playing on Turner Classic Movie's TCM UNDERGROUND late tonight/early tomorrow morning at 2:45 AM.

The synopsis (taken from

The Twonky is a rather loose adaptation of a 1942 short story by the established science fiction author Henry Kuttner (writing with his wife C. L. Moore and using the pseudonym Lewis Padgett). In the original story, a creature from the future appears in a present-day factory that manufactures console radios. The being from the future makes Twonkys in his world, so he turns out a Twonky that looks like a radio. This device is delivered to a home, and the Twonky/ radio proceeds to take over the life of the new owner. In his adaptation, Oboler uses several gags from the story, but overall The Twonky is unsuccessful as a comedy and heavy-handed and clunky as satire. Oboler's little movie, however, is exceedingly strange and contains several images and incidents that are not easily forgotten.

Are you ready to get TWONKED, hipsters?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Movie Review: Sugar Hill (1974)

Sugar Hill

Written by Tim Kelly
Directed by Paul Maslansky

Sugar Hill...Marki Bey
Baron Samedi...Don Pedro Colley
Mama Maitresse...Zara Cully

Club owner Langston is murdered by a bunch of "business men" (read gangsters) when he refuses to sell.  Langston's girlfriend Diana "Sugar" Hill inherits not only his club, but also a thirst for vengeance that can't be satisfied waiting around for the police to make the arrest.  Instead, she seeks out ancient, retired Black Magic Woman Mama Maitresse to call upon some of that voodoo that she do so well.  Mama agrees to do so if Sugar is willing to accept the risk involved.  She is, of course (otherwise this wouldn't be much of a movie), and so they call upon the evil voodoo god Baron Samedi (who looks like the poor man's Coffin Joe), who grants Sugar control over an army of the dead.

One by one, Sugar and her zombie minions dispatch of the murderous thugs in wicked and wild ways--including feeding one poor bastard to a bunch of hungry pigs.  Serves you right, you jive turkey.

The Baron himself doesn't do much beyond standing around and looking creepy, but that's what he does and he does it well.  Sugar comes off as such a beautiful badass that at times it seemed she could take care of those thugs without any evil assistance--but then she wouldn't be discernible from any of the other beautiful badass blaxpolitation heroines.  And besides, voodoo is just pretty damn cool any way you slice it.

It even saved Weekend and Bernies 2.


The zombies here are kind of a cross between the old-school definition and the new post-Romero definition. They are undead, but they're raised by black magic and their makeup is reminiscent of Haitian body paint.  The gore is restrained, at least by today's standards, but that's okay.  This isn't a straight up horror flick, it's a horror/blaxploitation hybrid in the vein of Blacula, Blackenstein, and Brother From The Black Lagoon.  (Okay, I made that last one up.)  It's not an all together new hybrid, but still rare enough to be something of interest.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

E-Book Review: Nikki's Secret by William Malmborg

Nikki's Secret
NIKKI'S SECRET by William Malmborg
By William Malmborg

Kimberly is a young, pretty college student moving into a new house, attempting to escape from a number of memories that haunt her. No sooner than she moves in, though, does she begin receiving mysterious packages addressed to someone named Nikki. These packages are quickly followed up with would-be suitors arriving at her door, looking for wild sex with the unknown Nikki; photographs of her going about her normal life with obscenities scrawled on them; and increasingly veiled threats from a mysterious stalker.

It's obviously a case of mistaken identity, but that doesn't mean Kimberly is in any less danger. Who is stalking her, and who is Nikki? And why does it seem that Bill, the horror author that lives upstairs, knows a little more than he's letting on?

With the police force ineffective in stopping her harassment, Kimberly has to rely on two unlikely allies to put a stop to it: Her occasionally-creepy upstairs neighbor, and Mark, who originally came calling for Nikki.

Kimberly is obviously a troubled young woman. Her past experiences with men alone point toward some deeper trauma than even the ones we're privy to. She's strong, but she's far too insecure to know it. She's the modern day equivalent of a damsel in distress.

Mark is the virginal galoot whose eagerness to get any attractive female into bed draws him into Kimberly's investigation, hoping that she will be so grateful for his assistance that she throws him a pity bone. In general he's a good guy, but also a bit pathetic.

Bill interesting character. It's not just his name and occupation that alert us to the fact that he's based (at least in part) on William Malmborg. As a reader of his blog, I picked up on several cues from his past posts that made it into the novel, such as having a second computer used solely for pornography and visits to the "shadier" side of the Internet. One could spend a lot of time speculating where William ends and where Bill begins, but frankly, I don't think I have the stomach for it.

Nikki's Secret offered more mystery elements than I was used to in Malmborg's writing, which was refreshing. The whodunit angle and the stream of clues leave you guessing to the end, and you're genuinely not sure who is going to make it out alive.

This is the third novel by Malmborg that I have reviewed, and although I enjoyed it, I didn't enjoy it quite as much as Text Message or nearly as much as Jimmy. All three have had a touch of 'local flavor', as they take place in or around Dekalb, IL where the author resides, but they have become increasingly concerned with regional details, which may be thrilling for readers familiar with the area, but that's a small percentage of people. For me, reading accurate directions to get from one place to another became a bit tedious.

This also was the longest of Malmborg's novels, and it occasionally seemed overwritten with trivialities, taking a paragraph to say what could have been summed up in a sentence. Although the page count wasn't significantly higher than Text Message, Nikki's Secret wasn't as quick of a read. It took me longer to get through this one, as the extreme action simply wasn't there to keep me flipping through the digital pages.

Overall, not a bad read at all, but Malmborg hasn't yet recaptured the lightning in a bottle that he managed the first time around with Jimmy.

Special thanks to William Malmborg for supplying the digital review copy. Visit his blog and support indie authors by purchasing his works.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Shack Out On 101 (1955)

Shack Out On 101

Written by Edward Dein & Mildred Dein
Directed by Edward Dein

Slob...Lee Marvin
Sam...Frank Lovejoy
Kotty...Terry Moore

The titular shack out on 101 is actually a low-rent, nautical-themed greasy spoon positioned on the beach that seems to have more employees and hangers-on than actual customers.  There's the owner, George, who dreams of catching Ol' Poncho, a mythical fish; Slob, the dull-witted no-goodnik cook with a surplus of neanderthal machismo Eddie, a jewelry salesman recovering from some sort of unspecified breakdown; Sam, the handsome and dashing nuclear physicist who has become something of a celebrity; and Kotty, the waitress with dreams of civil servitude, the ripest tomato on the vine that all the men are vying for.  Throw some hot jazz on the jukebox and you got yourselves quite a happening shindig!

But beneath the all-American facade of this diner lies a terrible secret.  Three of these people have been working together to sell our nation's secrets!  Before you can say Benedict Arnold, though, Kotty catches on to their dirty game--even if she doesn't get all the facts straight.  And that's when the fun begins.

Well, that's not entirely true.  This cheap little thriller is fun from the very beginning.  Chock full of anachronistic slang, moments of West Side Story-type violence, and wacky dialogue and unintentionally hilarious scenes, this one will leave you chuckling and shaking your head in disbelief.  The ridiculous homoerotic weight lifting session in the diner was a real standout and belongs on a highlight reel of headscratcher scenes.

Fans of classic cheesers will want to seek this out.  It's extremely odd, to say the least, and it takes place almost entirely on a single set.  But your mind will be blown, one of Sam's nuclear bombs.

80 Minutes
United States

"Even when you're clean, you look dirty."

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Willie Dynamite (1974)

Willie Dynamite
Written by Ron Cutler
Directed by Gilbert Moses

Willie Dynamite...Roscoe Orman
Cora...Diana Sands
Passion...Joyce Walker

In 2006, rap artists Three 6 Mafia won an Academy Award for their contribution to the soundtrack for Hustle & Flow.  Let me say that again slowly, so that it can fully sink in: Three 6 Mafia.  Academy Award.  This may have done wonders for their marketability, but probably did very little for their genuine street cred. None of which has anything to do with what we're here to discuss, although they were right about one thing.

It's hard out here for a pimp.

Just ask Willie Dynamite, one of the biggest baddest pimps in the city with a stable full of hoes available in every color of the rainbow.  We got white bitches, black bitches, Asian bitches.  Ho ho ho.

Pimpin' ain't easy.  And truth be told, it doesn't even seem like that much fun.  Sure, you get to dress like a Batman villain and backhand anyone who disrespects you, but you've always got to watch your back.  Poor Willie has to contend with a disapproving family, a sort of rival Pimp Coalition who is trying to drive him out of business, and the constant harassment of the police.  Every time he parks, they tow his purple pimpmobile!  Lucky for him, he's got his pimp limp down flat.  Add into this mix a do-gooder social worker with a heart of gold who has made it his personal mission in life to 'save' Passion, Willie's latest recruit, and you'll have a pretty good idea of what Mr. Dynamite has to deal with on a daily basis.

This is blaxploitation perhaps at its finest, because it's blaxploitation with a message.  But then again, Citizen Kane may be cinema at its finest, but I'm much more likely to sit down for a repeat viewing of Puppet Master or Bloodfeast.  That is to say, he may be a complicated man that no one understands, but Willie Dynamite is no Shaft.  It's Shaft-Lite.  Shaft with a side of After School Special.

That's not to say that this movie can't be enjoyed for it's own, umm...merits(?).  It's terribly dated, as are all blaxploitation films, but that's part of the charm.  The characters are wacky and offbeat, and although it's relatively tame, there are some surprising (if not terribly convincing) acts of violence.  The Willie Dynamite themesong is nothing short of amazing, and there is a good chase scene at a construction site that was like low-rent (low, low rent) Michael Bay.  And there's a Primary Cast Strutting Slowly With Funky Music Playing In The Background scene, as Willie and his stable leave the police station, that rivals that iconic moment from Reservoir Dogs.

Interestingly, after Willie retired from pimpdom, he joined the cast of Sesame Street.  Seriously.

Rated R
102 Minutes
United States

"Listen here, you jive ass dude.  The price of meat has gone up everywhere."

Friday, November 23, 2012

Check This Out: Marvel Handbook REDUXE

I recently discovered a blog entitled OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE: REDUXE EDITION, where a variety of artists get together and reinterpret images of every single character in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Deluxe Edition.  Readers of my blog know that I'm just as much a geek as I am a freak, so I immediately found myself lost in this fantastic images.  Take a look at the samples below, and check out the blog by clicking HERE.

The Ancient One by Mike Scott

The Watcher by Calamity John Morris

Puppet Master by Gavin de Lint

Luke Cage by Luc Latulippe

Scarecrow by Kevin Steele



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