Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Movie Log 2009: #12-23 (B-fest recap)

Aside from Plan 9, which I slept through, and Godzilla vs. Megalon, I hadn't seen anything on the bill.

Firewalker - This year's mini theme was misleading titles: lots of walking here, but not on fire. A good light opener.

Frankenstein vs. the Wolf Man - According to the always-accurate Wikipedia, Lugosi's age (and possibly his habit) led to a number of stand-ins. It sounds like his actual screen time was less than his notorious non-appearance in Plan 9! Screenwriter Curt Siodmak later wrote Donovan's Brain, which came a few hours later.
Here's the "New Wine" production number. Fa-do-laa, fa-do-leee.

Murder in the Air - just a little air travel, but only attempted murder while there. Ron Reagan breaks up a ring of saboteurs posing as a patriotic organization. Their symbol is a tattoo of an encircled arrow. Hmmm...that symbol...allegedly patriotic but up to no good...I KNEW IT!

Scream Blacula Scream - I was hoping the annual blaxploitation spot would honor Rudy Ray Moore and we'd get Human Tornado. This was fine too. SPOILER ALERT: Our Misleading Title theme is broken.
Some outfits are better off NOT seen in the mirror:

Don't Knock the Rock - An odd little film -- perhaps science fiction now that I think about it -- which explores parental concern over rock & roll. Apparently the crooning of middle-aged men causes teens to go crazy and dance on furniture:

The biggest threats to sofas are Alan Dale and Bill Haley. Little Richard, probably insane enough to give parents legitimate concern, is also on hand to perform "Tutti Frutti" and "Long Tall Sally," but is unusually sedate. Aside from Bill Haley, the highlight is The Treniers and "Out of the Bushes." Strangely, their put-out-or-else anthem "Get Out of the Car" didn't make the cut.

Donovan's Brain - I fell asleep during the last 10 minutes. Man, Nancy Reagan was brittle even back then.

The Tingler - Although our auditorium was not wired for "Percepto," this was enjoyable enough. Vincent Price did what you'd expect, and William Castle isn't so bad.

Captive Wild Woman - This, on the other hand, was a steaming pile of crap, and should have been good evidence for keeping Ed Dmytryk blacklisted. Mad scientist John Carradine, prepping for his role in Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex*, turns a circus gorilla into Acquanetta, who becomes attracted to animal tamer Lloyd Corrigan. At 61 minutes, this is padded with interminable scenes of lions and tigers being "trained" -- that is, of the whip/chair/pistol school -- and made to fight each other. I was rooting for the cats.

American Ninja 2: The Confrontation - Confrontastic! Written and co-starring Gary Conway of I Was a Teenage Frankenstein non-fame. Michael Dudikoff is sent to a Caribbean island, where ninjas' black pajamas render them invisible on the white sandy beaches. And I'm surethe fabric really breathes:

The Terror of Tiny Town - too shrill. Hurt my ears.

The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant - This may set a new standard for mad scientists: In the name of SCIENCE!, by all means take the head of an escaped lunatic (and your wife's abductor) and graft it onto the body of your kindly, mentally-disabled gardener/handyman. Because not only is that idiot's life not worth a damn, your wife probably won't mind at all if she has to look at her attempted rapist's face every day. It's for science. SCIENCE!

Megaforce - If I'm remembering it right, this is the film that inspired Chris Gore to start Film Threat magazine. He, like myself and countless other nerdy kids in the '80s, read Starlog magazine religiously. Its shill job for this horrid movie made him decide that *his* movie magazine would never mislead its readers so grossly. This was a glorious celebration of spandex, smokebombs, and the greatest greenscreen shot EVAH.

Check out Bostwick's great shadowpuppet:

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Monday, February 16, 2009

The Education of Shelby Knox

Documentary about a devout Christian teenager in Lubbock, Texas, who completed the True Love Waits purity-ring ceremony at her church but nonetheless spent a couple of years campaigning for sex education and gay-straight alliances in public schools. I liked Shelby, who is scrappy, empathetic, and very liberal in a conservative place. I adored her parents, who are conservative Republicans and seem really, really nervous about anything remotely gay-related . . . and yet they love, admire, respect, and support their daughter, even when they disagree with her. How many parents do you know who would frame newspaper articles that include the headline "Sex Education" and a prominent photograph of their teenager?

Minor spoiler: My favorite moment was when Shelby's mom accompanied her to an anti-Fred Phelps rally (he's the "God Hates Fags" guy). The mama not only attended but marched while carrying a homemade "Judge Not" sign. And you know she wasn't trying to be incognito, not in a DYED-MAGENTA RABBIT FUR JACKET. OMG y'all.

My favorite sign from the anti-Phelps rally: "HATE IS TACKY."

So why aren't there purity ceremonies for young men? I would guess that they are approximately half the problem as far as teen pregnancies are concerned.

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Encounters at the End of the World (2007)

Werner Herzog goes to Antarctica to explain why he hates civilization, global warming, ugly mining towns, climate-controlled buildings, "stupid" New Age philosophy, aerobics classes, the "abomination" that is yoga, money-grubbing people who want him to make movies about "fluffy little penguins," and sunlight.

What does he like? Underwater filming in temperatures far below freezing, philosophers who drive forklifts, and scientists.

Also, he wants to know whether penguins ever suffer from insanity and why chimps don't ride goats.

It's a really good documentary, actually.

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Man on Wire

Very compelling documentary about Philippe Petit, a street performer/wirewalker/unicyclist/break-in artist/showoff/bon vivant. Oh, those crazy French.

You know it's a good movie because I got scared he was going to fall off and die . . . even though they were interviewing him, on camera, about what he did.

One of the DVD extras is an animated version of a children's book about Petit. It's very effective visually, and the narration is by the dreamy Jake Gyllenhall, but is it really wise to write a children's book about someone who repeatedly broke the law so that he could risk his life?

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Basically "Hansel and Gretel" with just one kid. Not groundbreaking in terms of storyline, but very entertaining. Dakota Fanning does an excellent job as Coraline.

The stop-motion animation is beautiful, and the 3-D effects are effective rather than kitschy. At one point a character sews a button eye onto a doll's face, and the people in front of me flinched as the needle came out.

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

B-Fest 2009, Part Two

5:00 AM
Felix E. Feist 1953 | Sci-Fi

Mean millionaire gets into plane crash, takes over body of nice doctor, forces him to buy expensive suits and smoke fancy cigars. Oh, and kill people.

6:30 AM
William Castle 1959 | Horror

Vincent Price was truly a great actor, because he made this interesting.

8:00 AM
Edward Dmytryk 1943 | Horror

This wasn't the worst movie ever (even though it was made by that rat-fink HUAC collaborator Dmytryk), but most of the people in my group didn't like the racial aspects of the gorilla-girl part of the plot, and nobody liked the scenes of the lion and tiger fighting. The fur actually flew.

It was fun to see this with our friend Margaret the vet, though. "Wait, he's saying that transplanting glands from one animal to another means you can change that animal's appearance and size? And now he's transfusing gorilla blood into a human? What?"

9:10 AM

I think this was the Japanese musical with the all-female cast that ripped off Show Boat and a Gene Kelly number and had various other surreal things about it, including a blue bird the size of a three-story building, girls in cages, and Japanese Rockettes.

9:30 AM
Sam Firstenberg 1987 | Action

Greg's verdict: "Confrontastic!"

11:10 AM
Sam Newfield 1938 | Action

An all-midget Western with musical numbers. No, really. (Actually, I noticed some dwarfs too.)
My mom saw this late one night and described it to me and my dad, and we told her she was hallucinating and should knock it off with the sleeping pills. Then she found the listing in TV Guide (no Internet back then) and made us apologize.

As one might expect, the musical numbers were shrill.

I still have no idea what the penguin was doing in the barbershop. Can someone help me with this? No, I wasn't hallucinating . . . although I had eaten an entire bag of potato chips by then.

12:20 PM

This was an urelentingly pretentious black-and-white montage that caused Natalie to yell "I can't TAKE it anymore!", kick the seat in front of her, and pull her blanket over her head. So, yeah, it was worth watching just for that.

Oh, and it was dedicated to Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton and contained the words DEATH . . . BREATH . . . DEATH . . . BREATH. And it showed Marilyn Monroe crying. Can someone help me find this, so I know who's to blame?

12:45 PM

Anthony M. Lanza 1971 | Horror

Greg felt this should have been shown (if at all) around 3 AM because it was "too rapey." The only female character (Smurfette, basically) does not actually get raped, but she nearly gets raped on about five different occasions. So that was no fun to watch.

Poor Bruce Dern, starring in schlock like this. Maybe he had a mortgage.

It was fun to see Casey Kasem play the brother of a blond Nordic type. Sure, why not?

Kasem's outfits were highlights of the film.

Hal Needham 1982 | Sci-Fi

Wow. The main character is named Ace Hunter and wears a spandex jumpsuit, a headband, and guyliner. Also, it has the guy from Xanadu and The Warriors. I may need to buy this. It caused Natalie and I and several strangers to burst into the theme song from The Greatest American Hero.

Unfortunately, this movie also has a Smurfette. She kisses her thumb and then gives a thumbs-up to Ace. And then she waves her thumb in the air. That never caught on, I guess.

4:30 PM
Jun Fukuda 1973 | Sci-Fi

I've been complaining about movies that have only one female character. So of course I loved this movie, which had NO female characters. And it had so much dangerous driving in classic cars that I was expecting Ronny Howard to show up.

Megalon travels by pointing his flippery rock-studded arm-things downward and jumping. This caused the entire audience to yell "Wheeeeeeeeee!"

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B-Fest 2009, Part One

I have survived another year of B-Fest! Here's what we saw.

6:05 pm
J. Lee Thompson 1986 | Action

Greg's comment: "Not much fire. Lots of walking."
The villain's eye patch sometimes covered his right eye and sometimes his left.
I wasn't sure if this was fake Raiders of the Lost Ark or fake Romancing the Stone. Greg pointed out that Romancing the Stone is fake Raiders of the Lost Ark, so it would be fair to call Firewalker fake Romancing the Stone.

8 pm
Roy William Neill 1943 | Horror

As the title came up, one person shambled across the stage like Frankenstein's monster, and someone else crept over from the other side of the stage imitating a werewolf. When they got to the middle, they shook hands.

9:25 pm

I can't even remember what this was. Maybe Kids and Comics, the annoying short film about how war comics turn boys into clarinet-playing whisperers with destruction on their minds.

9:45 pm
Lewis Seiler 1940 | Action

Ronald Reagan movies are easy to sleep through because his voice is so nice and modulated.

10:50 pm

Didn't win anything.

11:45 pm
Mike Jittlov 1989 | Sci-Fi

Stompy fun as always.

Edward D. Wood Jr. 1959 | Sci-Fi

Paper-plate-throwing fun as always. Jim made some incredible stencilled paper plates that people couldn't stop looking at.

1:30 am
Bob Kelljan 1973 | Horror

Blacula looks handsome in light blue.
Pam Grier screamed so many variations of "Stop! Don't hurt him!" that somebody behind me said "Tell him to go ahead--maybe he'll change his mind."

3:15 am
Fred F. Sears 1956 | Music

Includes the Bill Halley song that contains the catchphrase "Hot dog, buddy buddy," which became the catchphrase of the evening. Clips are here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBBRs3fSFi0
The song that unleashed a thousand Brak imitations is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKIG7wR56V8
We were all impressed by the Treniers song that had lyrics along the lines of "I'm gonna jump out the bushes and SCAAAARE YOOOOU, SCAAARE YOOOOU . . ." Except that Andrew thought it was "jump out the woods." And I thought it was "jump out the woodshed." Needless to say, I can't find it online because I don't know what it's called or what the words really are. Help?

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