I don’t have a car and there’s not a drive-in near me, but I think it’s great that the drive-in movie experience is making a comeback in response to the pandemic. Nature finds a way. In honor of this great revival I offer you a drive-in double feature: two horror movies about a car. In fact, about the car.
THE CAR (1977) is directed by Elliot Silverstein (CAT BALLOU) and written by Dennis Shryack & Michael Butler (THE GAUNTLET, CODE OF SILENCE, PALE RIDER) and Lane Slate (DEADLY GAME) and it’s a killer car movie before CHRISTINE. Its faceless villain is a cool looking matte black 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III customized by George Barris, designer of the Munster Koach, Knight Rider and maybe the Batmobile (rival Wikipedia editors seem to have added conflicting information on that). Anyway it kinda looks like a hearse and has a big, distinctive grill. I could see the Tall Man from PHANTASM cruising around in this thing.
Until now, Leigh Whannell has seemed like James Wan’s sidekick. I guess technically he’s the creator of SAW, because he wrote the short film, but he’s mainly known for co-writing the first three SAWs, DEAD SILENCE and all the INSIDIOUSes. And then he directed INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY CHAPTER THREE. But did you know he had it in him to go off on his own and write and direct a ferocious low budget cyberpunk action thriller? Man, why didn’t you tell me?
Logan Marshall-Green (from THE INVITATION and Quarry, but I’ll always think of him as “I just want answers, baby” from PROMETHEUS) stars as Grey Trace, a simple mechanic who loves listening to Howlin’ Wolf records in the garage and working on his Firebird even though he lives in a near future with self-driving cars and cyber implants and shit. (Yeah, I know. But at least they don’t say out loud that he’s an analog man in a digital world. They just show you visually and then move on.)
Then one night mysterious criminals shoot him and his wife (Melanie Vallejo, the Blue Ranger on Power Rangers Mystic Force), leaving him paralyzed and her dead. Though his house is set up with some pretty sweet robot arms that can prepare food for him, he’s miserable and suicidal without his wife or the ability to work with his hands. (read the rest of this shit…)
In my view Scarlett Johansson can do no wrong. But the live action manga and/or anime adaptation GHOST IN THE SHELL probly did itself a fatal wrong by casting her as the human-brained robot cop Major, a role that probly should’ve showcased an exciting up and coming Japanese-American actress.
I was skeptical about the controversy at first, because the animated version of the character looks white to my American eyes, and I mean she’s a robot she can look any way they want her to look, plus the story takes place in a very international future, and anyway it’s an American remake of a foreign film so by definition it’s gonna be changed for American culture, and additionally the director of the anime Momoru Oshii said that Johansson was perfect for the part, and it’s true that her roles in UNDER THE SKIN and LUCY prove that she’s uniquely qualified to play an ass-kicking almost-naked robot lady, and furthermore it’s not like it’s easy for her to get a lead role like this either, and anyway a couple years ago all the clamor was for Hollywood to make more big genre movies based around women, and back then nobody specified “white women don’t count.” So I feel bad for her.
When we talk about JOHNNY MNEMONIC now it’s usually with a smirk. Rapid advances in the technology that it speculated about have made some of its vision of 2021 goofily dated. Star Keanu Reeves (BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA) was still solidifying as an action star and brought a funny surfer dude lilt to his slick underworld messenger character Johnny. And even at the time it was considered a failed moviefication of William Gibson’s “cyberpunk” style of sci-fi, which had a strong reputation as a cool, edgy type of literature as opposed to the old timey painted cover fantasies of previous eras. But they turned it into what was seen as some cheesy Hollywood bullshit.
Since the mid ’80s, tales have been told of the brave souls trying to adapt Gibson’s debut novel Neuromancer into a major motion picture (directors attached have included Chuck Russell, Chris Cunningham, Joseph Kahn and Vincenzo Natali). But this short story adaptation, directed by installation artist/occasional music video director Robert Longo and written by Gibson himself, beat it to the screen by 20 years and counting. They just had to replace the mirror-eyed “razor girl” character Molly Millions in the story with the regular-eyed Jane, because Molly was tied up with the rights for Neuromancer, since she’s in that too.
Gibson and Longo originally set out to make a $1.5 million black and white sci-fi noir, but couldn’t get the funding, so they agreed to a $20 million version with TriStar Pictures, whose other productions that year were THE QUICK AND THE DEAD, HIDEAWAY, 3 NINJAS KNUCKLE UP, JURY DUTY, MAGIC IN THE WATER, DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS, NEVER TALK TO STRANGERS and JUMANJI. As artistic types and Hollywood rookies they may have been out of their depth trying to make a summer blockbuster with the star of SPEED, and Longo didn’t get his cut anyway. It turned out undeniably messy. (read the rest of this shit…)
Strange days we’re livin in, here in the futuristic year of 1999. Everywhere you go there’s people getting chased, cars on fire. I just saw 2 people beating up Santa Claus on the sidewalk. Can you believe gas has gotten up to three whole dollars a gallon? What a nightmare! And man, I almost miss junkies. They were so much better than these “wireheads” you got now, who plug into recordings of the brain responses to sex and bank robberies and stuff. Those guys make me sick.
Okay, you got me, this is actually late 2009 when I’m writing this, and that was a made up science fiction scenario that did not end up happening in ’99. I would remember if it had. Isn’t that weird? In less then two months we’ll be at the 10th anniversary not of this movie, but of the future it takes place in. So it’s ironic that it’s about people stuck on re-living old experiences, and meanwhile we’re watching it comparing it to the actual New Year’s Eve 1999 we experienced. (read the rest of this shit…)