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Archive for October, 2008

Pet Sematary

Friday, October 31st, 2008

This month I’ve done a pretty good job of picking out the best mid-level Stephen King pictures, the INCBIS’s (it’s not CARRIE, but it’s solid). I didn’t think PET SEMATARY would hold up very well, but I was wrong, this was another good one. Good job, PET SEMATARY. Here’s a treat.

It’s a relief to see a Stephen King story where the main guy is not a writer and his marriage is not in trouble. This is the story of happily married doctor Louis Creed and his family of 2 kids and a cat moving to a new town in a house right along a popular trucking route. The road is so dangerous there’s a large pet sematary (sic) nearby, so they start worrying about their cat Winston Churchill. Their worries are not unfounded. But also they should keep an eye on their youngest kid in my opinion. (implied spoiler) (read the rest of this shit…)

Phantasm II

Thursday, October 30th, 2008


There’s actually not a subtitle on this one, I made that up. Anyway this is the first sequel, made 11 years later with the backing of Universal Studios. It’s the year after EVIL DEAD 2 but it’s the same kind of thing Universal did later with ARMY OF DARKNESS, taking a cult movie and its director, putting a little more money behind it and hoping to trick mainstream audiences into thinking they care. Nobody knows why they did it, but we’re kind of glad they did.

The advantage of the Universal money is that they have some pretty good special effects. The disadvantage is that they have to ditch the original star, A. Michael Baldwin (a rogue Baldwin brother not related to Alec Baldwin), and replace him with James LeGros of DRUGSTORE COWBOY. You know, for that guaranteed James LeGros demographic who will just go to any James LeGros movie over and over again, and get all of their friends to come, just to watch James LeGros. It’s like the old Hollywood saying goes, don’t ever make a movie that doesn’t star James LeGros. Trivia: no movie has ever made a profit without James LeGros, and vice versa. (read the rest of this shit…)


Thursday, October 30th, 2008

PHANTASM stands alone in American horror – even of 1979 – because of its emphasis on the fuckin weird. Many horror movies are about the fear of a dude with a knife or ax. That makes sense. We know his immediate goal and why it threatens us. Or sometimes it’s supernatural, or it’s a monster. That brings in the fear of the unknown, but we still sort of know most of the time. It’s gonna bite us.

But PHANTASM creeps us out by giving us a bad guy our minds aren’t used to wrapping around: a mean old man at a funeral home who is unusually strong, bleeds yellow, his body parts can turn into bugs, he commands deadly flying metal orbs, and he steals bodies from graveyards and crushes them into weird little dwarves in Jawa robes who do his bidding. It’s a scheme we have seen in less than 50 movies in the entire history of cinema up until this point so it isn’t worn out yet. (read the rest of this shit…)


Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Legend has it that in the 1960s the president of Mexico (whoever that was) was obsessed with wrestling. He was humiliated that his country couldn’t beat Russia in the Olympics, so he began a secret program. Scientists took three of the best lucha libre guys and Frankensteined them into one: El Mascerado, the greatest wrestler who ever lived. But after a while something went wrong. He went insane in the ring, poking people’s eyes out and mangling people (both of which are illegal in Mexican wrestling). So they took him away to some small town to put him down and nobody knows what happened. Now, a vanful of American douchebags have accidentally stopped in a ghost town where El Mascerado secretly resides. And they’re about to learn that he’s not exactly retired yet. He hasn’t switched to ringside commentator, he’s still in the game. And still undefeated.

How can you go wrong with a premise like that? Well, they try their best to go wrong. After a nice lucha libre montage under the credits they introduce the obnoxious lead-trespasser, Alfonse, talking about that stupid concept called “the Dirty Sanchez.” I’m not gonna explain what it is because it doesn’t exist, it’s just some stupid bullshit some prick like this guy made up because he impresses himself by yammering about this type of stupid shit. Basically it’s a made-up sex act that would give no sexual pleasure but would be demeaning, racist and disgusting, so Screech did it in his porno dvd. (read the rest of this shit…)

Hell Ride

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

The first time I saw KILL BILL VOLUME 2, when Michael Madsen got chewed out by his boss at the strip club, I thought Who is that guy? Because he had such a presence, he seemed so perfect to play that type of sleazy (but completely justified in this case) boss, but I didn’t think I recognized him from anything. Turns out he was Larry Bishop, son of Joey Bishop. He’s an actor going back to WILD IN THE STREETS and an I DREAM OF JEANNIE episode, and the guy who directed that movie MAD DOG TIME a while back. Well, Tarantino obviously liked him so he helped him to make a biker movie, this time not just as director but as writer/director/producer/star.

Tarantino put his name on the movie as a presenter, hooked Bishop up with Dimension Films, and loaned him the use of Michael Madsen and David Carradine for a while. He also seems to be a big inspiration on the attitude of the movie, which is basically a western on motorcycles with lots of weird non-sequitur shit thrown in. The movie also has some pretty hip marketing, one of the first incidents in modern times of a movie released with a cool illustrated movie poster that remains as the DVD cover. Everyone knows you’re supposed to throw away the poster and put a shitty photoshop collage of the actor’s heads on the DVD. That’s in marketing 101. This one breaks that rule. (read the rest of this shit…)


Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Producers of violent horror movies like to claim their movies are “controversial.” Here’s a more mainstream-acceptable horror movie that actually is controversial among movie fans. It was hugely popular at the time, but it seems to me like most horror fans today look down on it or sent it. Like it or not, SCREAM was an important landmark in the ongoing history of the horror. It singlehandedly resuscitated the rotting corpse of the slasher movie (at least in its whodunit form inspired by FRIDAY THE 13TH, SLEEPAWAY CAMP, PROM NIGHT, TERROR TRAIN, etc.) It made horror big business again, paving the way for an onslaught of low (and medium) budget horror that otherwise wouldn’t have happened. But alot of horror fans see themselves as outsiders, so it bugs them when a horror movie is popular with people who aren’t as into stabbing and monsters as they are. And in my opinion there is a certain amount of sexism there, because they get mad about teenage girls liking the same movies as them. (Don’t tell them that HALLOWEEN is about teenage girls, they might cry.) (read the rest of this shit…)

Road Games

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

After watching DARK AGE and ROGUE recently I started thinking about other Australian pictures, but without giant crocodiles: MAD MAX, RAZORBACK, CHOPPER, WOLF CREEK. And I thought holy shit (American for “crikey”) I gotta see some more Australiama or whatever it’s called. Actually, I have since learned that a documentary on Australian exploitation cinema played in Austin recently and got all my Ain’t It Cool colleagues excited about “Ozploitation.” I’m not ready to accept that term, that seems pretty forced. How bout if we call it “cinemarang.” Or “cinemaroo.” Or “Australian cinema” would be another good one.

Anyway I decided to watch this one by Richard Franklin, best known in the states for the surprisingly decent PSYCHO II. He did that one because he was obsessed with Hitchcock, studied all his movies, even got him to come speak at his film school. Can you believe that shit? “Good evening kids, I’m Alfred Hitchcock. Questions?” I wonder if he hung out in the dorms at all. (read the rest of this shit…)

Sleepaway Camp

Monday, October 27th, 2008


There’s no way around it: SLEEPAWAY CAMP is a blatant ripoff of FRIDAY THE 13TH. It borrows the summer camp setting, the child with a tormented past and messed up guardian, and the unseen killer who’s unmasked in a crazy twist ending that nobody could’ve seen coming because it came out of nowhere. Alot of slasher movies take the same formula and put it in a different setting, this one takes the same formula and puts it in the same setting. It’s like DIE HARD in a building.

The reason it’s survived in the popular consciousness, though, is that it has its own weird brand of sleaziness that gives it a feel different from any other slasher movie, including other summer camp slasher movies. For one thing, the kids at the summer camp are played by actual kids. The vast majority of ’80s slasher movies were about teens played by actors in their early to mid twenties. And FRIDAY THE 13TH focussed on the counselors. Adrienne King, who played FRIDAY heroine Alice, was 20. Felissa Rose, the star of SLEEPAWAY CAMP, was 13. It makes it more uncomfortable. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Strangers

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman (Felicity) play a young couple who have come to town for a wedding and are staying at an isolated house Scott’s family owns. It’s a house with a long driveway and a lot of trees around, a place where people can get lost, he mentions. They’ve had a bad night and might be calling it quits with each other and then all the sudden, around 4 am, some girl knocks on the door asking for somebody they never heard of.

Out here? In the middle of nowhere? Where did she come from? Then Scott makes the mistake of going to buy cigarettes. While he’s gone the girl shows up again, and things start getting weirder. Basically this is the story of what happens when 3 people in Halloween masks show up at your house and try to get in, for unknown reasons. (read the rest of this shit…)


Sunday, October 19th, 2008

I can’t remember if I’ve brought this up before or not, but I fuckin hate Bush. Worst thing to happen to this country including our version of Godzilla looking like an iguana. I don’t think I’m the only one who’d rather not think about him unnecessarily. So when I heard Oliver Stone was already doing an all-star George W. Bush movie it seemed like a joke. It honestly sounded to me like a fictional movie they would refer to in some TV show like STUDIO 60 or one of those. A character would mention that they’re trying out for the part of so-and-so in Oliver Stone’s George Bush biography. And I would think come on, Oliver Stone would never make a movie like that.

I mean, there’s the whole too soon factor. Are we really ready for a more humanized portrait of the moronic shitbag sonofabitch who’s about to exit the White House leaving behind 2 (two) wars with no clear objectives, a Constitution that has been devalued by the government intentionally and openly violating it without any consequences, the people sorely divided for intentional political purposes, and (the cherry on top) the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression? Should we really give a shit what makes this asshole tick? Shouldn’t that be a fun hobby for historians to play many, many years from now when we’ve managed to get some of the mess cleaned up? (read the rest of this shit…)