“I’m Paul Barlow, and this is my daughter Jo.”

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

Author Archive

Aquaman

Friday, December 28th, 2018

AQUAMAN is about a Superfriend, but it’s much more than a comic book movie. Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa, Baywatch) is the son of a lighthouse keeper (Temuera Morrison, STAR WARS II, THE MARINE 2) and the Queen of Atlantis (Nicole Kidman, BMX BANDITS). After his mom was taken away and possibly killed by her kingdom, Arthur grew up a landlubber, but with some clandestine swim and fight training by the vizier Vulko (Willem Dafoe, SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL). Like Arthur, the movie is a bridge between two worlds, that of an action movie and an epic fantasy. And Momoa, having been so good in BULLET TO THE HEAD and BRAVEN, but more known for Game of Thrones and CONAN THE BARBARIAN, is the perfect actor to do that.

Arthur, a.k.a. The Aquaman is a beer-stein-pounding lout and freelance swimming vigilante living in a small coastal town. In the opening he rescues the crew of a submarine from high-tech pirates – his version of stopping a grocery store or mini-mart robbery. Though he can communicate with fish, he’s your basic rowdy tough guy complete with black duster and slo-mo glory shots accompanied by rockin guitars just this side of “Bad to the Bone.” So he’s resistant to all this heir-to-the-throne-of-Atlantis shit, but by the end he’s given the beast-riding, lightning-throwing, fantasy painting god opportunity that CONAN failed to provide for Momoa. (read the rest of this shit…)

Roma

Thursday, December 27th, 2018

Usually when I rave about a movie there’s a premise I can explain to give you an idea what it’s about, what’s going on, what they’re trying to do. This one- it’s just about a young housekeeper for a doctor’s family in Mexico City in the early ’70s. She’s just trying to do her job, live her life. Or maybe the other way around, I’m not sure. But this description doesn’t come close to capturing how compelling it is, how much it pulls you into her life, for good and bad and gut punchingly tragic. Not that it’s a bummer. Despite the constant threats of poverty, unrest and general male shittiness, there’s alot of warmth and love in ROMA.

And it’s beautiful. Writer-director Alfonso Cuaron is known for groundbreaking cinematographical feats with director of photography Emanuel Lubezki, such as those thrilling long takes in CHILDREN OF MEN and GRAVITY. This time Lubezki couldn’t do it so Cuaron decided to be his own d.p., which he turns out to be very good at. Shot in a digital 65mm format, it’s a vivid widescreen black and white. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Brain

Monday, December 24th, 2018

A Very Tape Raider Christmas

THE BRAIN is a 1988 sci-fi horror movie that takes place around Christmas time. That’s not an important part of the plot, but there are Christmas decorations at the beginning, “Jingle Bells” plays (and then ominously slows down) on a car radio, a pot of poinsettias gets shot by police during a chase scene, I noticed a sign in the school for a dance or something with the theme “Cosmic Christmas,” and there’s some snow on the ground. Also the movie itself is kind of a Christmas gift to me because it’s pretty good and its weird vibe and gooey special effects warmed my heart like I imagine a yule log would if I had ever experienced a yule log in person.

First and most important order of business is to assure you that the title and cover art are not misleading. Though it was made during the height of slasher sequels and shows a strong A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET influence, it is indeed a movie about, as the hero calls it, “that brain monster thing that’s killing everyone.” And they show it right at the beginning – a big slimy pulsating brain with a tentacle/spine hanging out like a tail, hooked up to some machines in a lab at the Psychological Research Institute (PRI). I think it was wise to establish that we’re dealing with arguably a goofy ’50s drive-in movie throwback before the first big scare sequence and not after. Pull that Band-Aid right off. (read the rest of this shit…)

Road to Paloma

Friday, December 21st, 2018

ROAD TO PALOMA is the directational debut of actor/barbarian Jason Momoa, who also co-wrote and stars as Robert Wolf, a rugged but charming motorcycle ridin fugitive. Six months ago he put on face paint and killed the man who raped and killed his mother. Since then he’s been laying low, “up in the Sierras mostly,” doing Jason Momoa things like building a fence, repairing cars and motorcycles, pushing wheelbarrows, drinking out of a tin cup next to a campfire, smoking loosely rolled cigarettes, and riding around desert highways, sometimes with a mask, but never with a helmet.

This is a road movie, and all along the road he has old friends and family who he loves to sneak up behind and growl or grab, and there is always smiling and lifting people and spinning them around. He is loved by the full range of age groups from children to the elderly.

(read the rest of this shit…)

Bad Santa 2

Friday, December 21st, 2018

We’re mostly agreed these days that BAD SANTA is a timeless Christmas classic, right? I have friends and loved ones who it’s too mean for, and it got brutal critical reception at the time, done no favors by Miramax insisting on more ball punching and shit so the theatrical and “BADDER SANTA” cuts could fit some lowbrow comedy marketing strategy that must’ve worked for them on SCARY MOVIE or something. The superior director’s cut has been available for years now, and now I watch that and mourn the loss of one dumb joke from the theatrical ending:

But in any of its incarnations, BAD SANTA makes me laugh so much and channels so much of my most negative thoughts that it’s one of the few movies I can watch once a year without getting tired of it. Willie (Billy Bob Thornton, THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE) is a funny asshole for the ages, a burnt out piece of shit full of self-loathing and even more full of loathing-others. His caustic wit and self-destructive behavior died for our sins, transforming humanity’s worst tendencies into wise ass Yuletide fuck yous both deserved and undeserved, but in a forum where no one can be hurt. He uses his asshole powers for good in his dealings with treacherous Marcus (who can dish it out too) or Bernie Mac’s quietly scheming “store dick.”

After so many viewings I sometimes find myself teary-eyed at Willie’s realization that Thurman (Brett Kelly, TRICK ‘R TREAT) cut himself while carving his weird Christmas gift, and at his attempt to return the favor before being gunned down by police. The smallness of the gesture to me makes it more authentic and in turn puts this jerk in line with more severe holiday transformations like Scrooge‘s or The Grinch’s. (read the rest of this shit…)

Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys

Thursday, December 20th, 2018

PUPPET MASTER VS. DEMONIC TOYS came out the year after FREDDY VS. JASON and a few months before ALIEN VS. PREDATOR, but eight years before THE AVENGERS, so it is an important milestone in cinematic universe crossover events. According to Wikipedia, though, it is “non-canon.” Produced for The Sci-Fi Network (before they had their own proprietary spelling), it doesn’t have Charles Band or Full Moon’s names anywhere on it, but it was directed by Ted Nicolaou (THE DUNGEONMASTER, TERRORVISION, SUBSPECIES, BAD CHANNELS, DRAGONWORLD) and written by C. Courtney Joyner (PUPPET MASTER III, DOCTOR MORDRID, TRANCERS III, plus PRISON and CLASS OF 1999).

Although I’m not all that familiar with either the vast PUPPET MASTER saga or the rich DEMONIC TOYS mythos I did think this one might be worth watching this week when I read (in Yuletide Terror, once again) that it was a Christmas movie.

Corey Feldman (EDGE OF HONOR, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES) plays Robert Toulon, proprietor of Toulon’s Puppet Hospital, which looks like a business on the outside but from inside seems to just be a basement where he and his daughter Alex (Danielle Keaton, VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED, PINOCCHIO’S REVENGE, BABY GENIUSES) do experiments mixing chemicals and blood in beakers and injecting them into the famous PUPPET MASTER puppets Blade, Pinhead, Jester and Six Shooter (but not Leech Woman). Although I guess they’re on their own alternate dimension timeline, please note that these are the original Greatest Generation anti-Nazi puppets, not the hate criminals from the S. Craig Zahler version. (read the rest of this shit…)

Monsters: “Glim-Glim” and “A New Woman”

Thursday, December 20th, 2018

Do you remember the syndicated TV show Monsters that ran in the late ’80s? I don’t really either, but I do remember seeing commercials for it. It was a horror anthology series produced by Richard P. Rubinstein, the guy who co-founded Laurel Entertainment with George Romero and produced MARTIN, DAWN OF THE DEAD, KNIGHTRIDERS, CREEPSHOW and DAY OF THE DEAD. They also produced Tales From the Darkside together, and this was Rubinstein’s followup series minus Romero. As you can probly guess, the episodes center around different monsters. The credits boast having the legendary Dick Smith as a makeup consultant.

The show didn’t have any kind of host or wraparound at all, but the introduction shows a family of monsters watching TV together.

“Oh great, it’s Monsters! Our favorite show!” one of them says.

By human standards it would be pretty weird to have not seen a show you liked better than Monsters, but I can appreciate that there are many cultural differences and things that the monster community might pick up on in these stories that go right over my head.

Anyway, there were two Christmas-themed episodes. Glim-Glim, the 13th episode of the first season, was directed by Peter Stein (director of photography for FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2, C.H.U.D., PET SEMATARY and BRENDA STARR) and written by F. Paul Wilson (author of the novel that THE KEEP is based on). (read the rest of this shit…)

Cash On Demand

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

CASH ON DEMAND is a 1961 Christmas crime movie that I learned about from that Yuletide Terror book I keep mentioning. Though the book is about Christmas-themed horror movies they included this crime one because it’s a Hammer production starring the great Peter Cushing. Apparently he didn’t want to get stuck only playing Dr. Frankenstein and Van Helsing and shit, so the studio threw him a bone.

It’s a simple story with only a handful of characters, entirely limited to a couple locations inside and just in front of a small town bank. I thought it might be based on a play, with the black and white photography and the snow falling outside the window adding a very cinematic atmosphere. It was in fact a remake of a television episode by the same director, Quentin Lawrence (THE TROLLENBERG TERROR, THE SECRET OF BLOOD ISLAND). I guess that makes sense too. (read the rest of this shit…)

Jack Frost

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

I don’t know why it took me more than 20 years, but I’ve finally seen JACK FROST, “not the Michael Keaton one, the other one,” as writer/director Michael Cooney says in his introduction to the (surprisingly) lovingly remastered Blu-Ray from Vinegar Syndrome. “The Michael Keaton one” (1998) is about a guy who tries to be a better father after dying and coming back as a snow man. “The other one” (1997) is the DTV horror movie about a serial killer who tries to continue serial killing after becoming a snowman.

He’s a crazy asshole on death row who actually does have the name Jack Frost (Scott MacDonald, LAST ACTION HERO). He tries to escape while being transported through Snowmonton, the small town where a small town sheriff (Christopher Allport, SAVAGE WEEKEND, TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A., INVADERS FROM MARS) ended his cross country murder spree. But a truck full of some chemical from a super secret experiment – I don’t know, some Marvel Comics shit – explodes onto Jack and melts him into shriveled meat and his soul is transformed into liquid form or something so he is able to reconstitute himself into snow. And then, while coming after Sheriff Tiler for revenge, he ends up with coal eyes, a carrot nose, a scarf, stick eyebrows and sometimes a pipe. No magic hat required. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Monster’s Christmas

Monday, December 17th, 2018

THE MONSTER’S CHRISTMAS is a holiday special that aired on New Zealand television in 1981. I’m going to be up front and admit that I don’t have a whole lot of insightful things to say about this one, but it’s so charmingly weird that I felt like I owed it to the world to write it up and share some screengrabs so more people can know it exists.

It opens with a slasher-style P.O.V. into a window, but otherwise it’s only scary in an accidental sort of way. An unnamed little girl (Lucy McGrath, whose only other credit is NEARLY NO CHRISTMAS, a 1983 special from the same director) reads a picture book to her teddy bear. It’s “The Monster’s Christmas by Burton Silver,” which is not a real book, but that is the name of the screenwriter.

Then she hears a clatter so she goes to the living room where the Christmas tree is and spots a big rubber blob monster guy. Smoke billows from a hole in his head. He has one wiggling antenna and one eye. Rings of weird Koosh-ball-like tendrils pulsate around the eye as tears or something drip out.

“Hey, you’re not Father Christmas!” the girl says.

(read the rest of this shit…)