Monday, November 15, 2010

It's been a loooooooong time since I've posted on my blog, and even longer since doing something about cooking.  Since I was making a new dish tonight I felt saucy and broke out the camera to document.  Here are the results for your enjoyment.

On Tonight's Menu: Pinwheel Flank Steak with Porcini and Red Wine Sauce, Smashed Sweet Potatoes and Roasted Asparagus

I started with reconstituting the dried Porcini mushrooms in boiling water for about 20 minutes and then separating the mushrooms from the water but reserving both.  

Then I pounded a flank steak (about 1.5 lbs) out to half-an-inch thick and covered half with a mixture of some chopped garlic, sage, rosemary and parmesan reggiano cheese.  

Then the steak was rolled tight and tied off with string.  After which it was seared in a pan with some extra virgin olive oil on the stove before putting it in the oven to cook through.  

While the pinwheel was cooking I prepared the sides.  This consisted of boiling chopped sweet potatoes in some water and putting the asparagus on a baking sheet with a little extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper.  

Also had to make the sauce.  The mushrooms went in with some red wine and cooked down before adding the mushroom liquid, some beef broth and a little cornstarch.  Simmer and stir until thickened.  

The sides were finished by roasting the asparagus in the oven while the pinwheel rested before cutting into it.  The potatoes were smashed and mixed with some kosher salt, black pepper, butter, a little cinnamon, brown sugar and some molasses.  I meant to add some milk, but I forgot in all the rush to get everything finished while still hot.  Oh well, it still tasted alright.  Here's the finished product.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Triple L

Nothing - 2003 - Dir. Vincenzo Natali
Location: My Couch

And thus begins my mini Vincenzo Natali marathon. I call it mini because out of his four features I watched three of them. He still has one other movie I have yet to see, but I'll get around to it soon. This film in particular I've had in my possession for probably about four years now. Yes, my friend Stefan lent this to me and since then he has moved to Sweden and it has just collected dust on my shelf. When I knew I was going to be seeing his new film (next post) and interviewing him I really wanted to go ahead and watch it. The story concerns two best friends who care not for the world outside their home. Both are in a very bad place and they wish hard for everything to disappear. That's when they realize they have the power to make the world go away and now it's just the two of them in their house surrounded by nothing. A bright white nothing. Most of the film is just these two guys, Andrew Miller and Natali staple David Hewlitt, talking and exploring their odd lives. The concept is very interesting but it does feel a little slow in parts making me think it might work better as a short. Still you have to commend Natali for making such a character driven piece with such a small cast.

I also recognize that had I not watched Sam Rockwell's amazing performance in Moon the night before I might have enjoyed this more. Both of the films have similarities with a couple of characters mostly talking for an hour and a half, so it's hard not to compare them. Still worth a watch.

Splice - 2010 - Dir. Vincenzo Natali
Location: Theater - Studio Movie Grill - Dallas
Early Screening

While not a perfect film I really did enjoy this. Even more because of how realistic the science is behind it all. You can read my review HERE at Pop Syndicate.

You can also find my interview with director Vincenzo Natali HERE.

Cube - 1997 - Dir. Vincenzo Natali
Location: My House

After I got home from Splice I just had to revisit his breakout hit. It had been many, many years since I had seen this but this low budget sci-fi flick was every bit as great as I remember. The story sounds a bit Sawish but this was made quite a few years before James Wan made the now yearly torture flick. A group of strangers wake up in an empty cube room with ornate designs and doors on each of the six walls. They can go through them but some of the rooms are booby trapped with different devices which leave the inhabitants dead. Now they travel through the structure from room to room trying to find a way out and recognize the pattern within it.

Such a simple location, with one room constructed, only the lighting colors change. There is nothing really flashy about the film but for a sci-fi/horror picture it has what many don't have - engrossing characters. The whole story is about these people making their journey and you really care about every decision made. I was shocked that even though I knew the outcome I was still so invested in the film. It affected me as much as it did when I was blown away in the shitty apartment I lived in when I rented it as a first run VHS in the late 90s. I told this to Natali after our interview and he seemed genuinely touched that I like his film so much. He's a great guy and a talented director.

If you have not see Cube you are doing yourself a giant disservice.

#216 & 217
Snake Eater - 1989 - Dir. George Erschbamer
Snake Eater III: His Law - 1992 - Dir. George Erschbamer
Location: Micah's House
Lorenzo Lamas

Out of Micah's great VHS haul this year he had a curious tape of Snake Eater II. This was his introduction to Mr. Lorenzo Lamas. I had a father who loved Lamas, especially his TV show Renegade, so I was exposed to the man from early on. Glad to hear that he was now hooked on LL and was thirsty for more.

Thus was born the Lorenzo Lamas Legion!
(cue trumpet fanfare)

During a bye week for Horror Movie Night we decided to make it a Lamas double feature, and after the success there are many more to come. I've actually already been toying with the pairings in the man's filmography. I can't wait for the shark double feature. Anyway, we decided to start with the first in this awesome action packed trilogy. Lamas plays Soldier, aka Jack Kelly, who is a rather unorthodox cop with a penchant for booby traps. After his suspension from the force for taking things too far he finds out his parents were killed and his sister is missing. Off he goes on his motorcycle to find the bastards behind it which turn out to be crazy rednecks. Along the way he meets his love interest The Kid and King, who dismantles Jack's bike and makes a chopper/boat hybrid. What a thing to wake up to. After a brief fit over it he soon thanks him for everything. I guess ruining his mode of transportation is no biggie.

The second film we watched was the last installment. Even though only Micah had seen the middle flick he says we didn't miss anything as far as a connecting storyline. In fact all three seem to be completely different tonally. Part 3 had more to do with bikers who kidnapped, drugged and raped a woman that Soldier/Jack is hired to find after his, surprise, suspension from the force. This time he teams up with a guy named Cowboy and the explosions and awesome flow as freely as his arms move in his sleeveless wardrobe. Highlight of the film was the very prim and proper mother of the victim who says, "raging case of gonorrhea."

I really dug the hell out of both films and can't wait to watch the second film to complete the collection. Be prepared for more Lorenzo Lamas Legion action in the weeks to come.

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves - 1991 - Dir. Kevin Reynolds
Location: Theater - Alamo Drafthouse Ritz
Master Pancake Theater

Since Jenny and I were already going to be in Austin we decided to check this show out where they do live riffing, much like Mystery Science Theater 3000, on different films. It was also nice to have Mary Jo Pehl from MST3K as a special guest joining in on the fun. This was so much freaking fun and my head and face hurt from laughing so much. These dudes know what they're doing and I can't wait to go down for another show in the future. I hear the holiday show is something spectacular.

UHF - 1989 - Dir. Jay Levey
Location: Theater - Paramount (Austin)

Jenny and I celebrated our three year anniversary back at the end of March but after hearing Weird Al Yankovic was coming to Austin for a special screening of his film and would be doing a Q&A we knew this would be a fun thing to do for the celebration. Even though the seats aren't too comfortable at the Paramount and our seats weren't too great (though they were better than I feared) we had a blast! I remember in the video store where I used to work, and long before I worked there, the catalog rentals were $1.99 (I think for five days) but there were certain films that I guess the owner didn't feel people would pay full price for. These damned titles only cost a mere $0.49 for the same amount of time. I remember a few different flicks but the one I rented the most was UHF. It was great to see this on the big screen with a fun audience, have a Weird Al sing-a-long and hang out with some friends (like BTSjunkie and lola0813). After we partied at The Highball where I we met up with more friends, Brian and Rachel Roberts, and I ate a delicious Twinkie Wiener Sandwich. Aside from a pretty lame Q&A with some VERY embarrassing questions, it was a wonderful experience.

Bukowski: Born Into This - 2003 - Dir. John Dullaghan
Location: My House

This is a documentary about the great poet and author Charles Bukowski. If you haven't read much by the man this is a great introduction to work, but even the most verbose fan will enjoy seeing footage of the late great. Highly recommended.

Necronomicon - 1993 - Dir. Brian Yuzna, Christophe Gans & Shusuke Kaneko
Location: Micah's House
Horror Movie Night

I'm a huge fan of H.P. Lovecraft's writings, but for some reason never say this anthology film based on his work. The three stories told are versions of the short stories "The Rats in the Walls," "Cool Air" and "The Whisperer in the Darkness." Now it's been a while since I've read those particular pieces but I can say with some authority that the filmmakers took quite some liberty with their versions. As with all anthology horror flicks there is a wraparound story and here it involves actor Jeffrey Combs playing Howard Phillips Lovecraft as he sneaks into a secret area of the library to read from the Necronomicon for inspiration and reference. This is a fun film with some pretty gnarly FX work. My one gripe is that I think they could've found someone who looks a little more like Lovecraft for the role. Combs is a great actor, and he looks scarily like Edgar Allan Poe now that he has played him on stage and screen, but with the prosthetics he looks more like Bruce Campbell. I think they should have gotten Paul Benedict, from The Jeffersons among many other things, because he naturally looks more like the author. What do you think?

(L to R: Combs, HP Lovecraft, Benedict)

Sweet Sugar - 1972 - Dir. Michel Levesque
Location: Micah's House
Weird Wednesday

Ah women in prison films, how I love thee. This particular film didn't have any girls in it that I really knew but the gorgeous Phyllis Davis won me over right away. A bunch of women are taken to a work camp where they server their sentence by chopping sugar cane. The real problem comes when the sinister Dr. John starts performing cruel and torturing experiments on the prisoners.

This film is sexy, funny, crazy and sexy. Of all the great moments I must leave you with this one involving cats. I'm sure you'll want to watch the film after seeing this, and I don't blame you.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

I still have some films to catch-up on blogwise, but I'm going to skip ahead to talk about the cool cinematic experience I had earlier today.

As a subscriber to the Dallas Film Society's newsletter I am occasionally apprised of events I didn't know about. Crazy, huh? As much time as I spend online with film related events you would think nothing could get by me, but it does. According to the most recent e-mail from them the historic Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff had a summer movie series running. I was beyond stoked.

For those who don't know about the location it was the first Dallas theater to have air-conditioning and was built in 1931 and opened by Howard Hughes. This enjoyed plenty of first run screenings until an afternoon in November of 1963 when during a screening of Burt Topper's War is Hell Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested in his seat for the assassination of JFK. More about the theater can be read here on the Texas Theatre's website.

According to the website the film series was going to end next week, not much of a summer series (but more on that later), so I knew I better see something soon. the schedule has Latin films on Sundays with English subtitles and the next one was going to be Los cronocrímenes (Timecrimes). This film was made in 2007 by Nacho Vigalondo and deals with time travel. I have heard nothing but good things so I knew this would be a great film to see in such a great venue. More on the film in a bit...

When we arrived at the theatre I was happy to get parking on the street nearby, but soon saddened because I left my camera at home. So please excuse the lower quality of my iPhone. As you can see from the vintage shot above the new marquee is a little different, but an homage to the original. Better than nothing, in my opinion. We walked in and the lobby is just a white shell. I know they are still in the process of renovation so I didn't think much of it. After looking around a bit I noticed this odd sight on left after you walk through the lobby doors.

Evidently in 1964 the original, beautiful architecture leading up to the balcony was covered up by white plaster/stucco. Who the hell thought this was a good idea?! Attendance was down because of the stigma associated with JFK's death in Dallas and the capture of his alleged killer in the theatre, but what about replacing a lovely lobby with an all white cavern was going to help? In this cross section you can see everything is still under the plaster. I'm not sure if there are plans to rip out and try to refurbish the original look because I didn't want to keep bugging those in charge with my lame questions. I'm sure much of it is in very bad shape by now, but it would be really cool.

My next big question was if the films were on 35mm or DVD. I didn't figure they would have actual film prints and I was right. There is a rather old 35mm projector upstairs but it doesn't work at the moment. They are hoping to get enough money needed for the repairs and get it running again. I really wanted to check out the projection booth, and the upstairs, but one of the guys told me he wasn't allowed to take me up there. Hopefully in the future I'll be able to talk him into it. If I do I'll be sure to have my camera that day.

One bit of good news to come from the trip is they ARE doing films all summer long! Soon the expanded schedule will be up on the website as well as their Facebook page. They also told me that "some girl" was going to be showing "weird videos" of some kind on Wednesdays soon. Of course it would have to conflict with our weekly Horror Movie Night, but we might have to take a field trip at least once.

Watching the film was nothing too special. The screen wasn't too big, but the sound was decent. I sat near the back because I wanted to sit around the area Oswald did (forgot to look-up exactly where before we went, but I was fairly close). The film itself was supposed be in Spanish, but the DVD started playing the dubbed version and I guess they didn't want to stop and start over after they realized the problem. It was a little annoying, but we have the shiteous Magnet distribution company to thank. Yes, this is the same company who screwed with the subtitles on the initial Let the Right One In release. For people who deal in quite a few foreign films why would they think the fans would want to watch it dubbed? We want to watch it with subtitles in the original language to get the full performance of the actors onscreen. Stop having your discs default to the dubbed version! Bah!

Aside from these few gripes, and the jerk who kept opening his phone a few rows up and to the right, the film was absolutely terrific. It's the type of film to not spell everything out, leave some questions and give you the chance to interpret things for yourself. I love that! This shows downsides to time travel and makes it less glamorous than a film like Back to the Future and much more realistic. Can't really get into too much of the specifics without discussing how the film unfolds. Very small cast and a very ambitious idea that I can't wait to revisit. Without the dubbing, of course.

All in all I had a great time watching a terrific film and geeking out over the awesome location. Normally going to a public exhibition of a DVD is not my thing, since I'd rather see film and replicate the original exhibition as much as possible, but I highly recommend checking out the Texas Theatre and going to as much as you can. The more money this group can get, from the $5 donation for admittance and buying concessions, the more work can be done on the theatre itself and with further programming. Most of the time Dallas moviegoers are pretty lame, but with the cheap ticket price here we can turn that around and bring a landmark back and see some great films along the way.


One more thing to mention. They also host art shows and other live events at this location so there are pieces hanging around. One of the ones I really dug is behind the concession area. Check out this three part piece on Frankenstein's Monster. Sweet!

(click image for full size)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Weekend at Bernie's - 1989 - Dir. Ted Kotcheff
Location: My Couch
Netflix Instant

It had been quite some time since I had seen this. Probably not since I rented it on VHS from the video store I used to work at ten to fifteen years ago. It's silly, funny and has Andrew McCarthy. Win all around!

Humanoids from the Deep aka Monster - 1980 - Dir. Barbara Peeters
Location: Micah's House
Horror Movie Night

Over the years I have seen this movie in pieces but never all at once and not every single part of it. So when it came up for Horror Movie Night I was happy to sit down and watch it as a whole film. This Roger Corman produced classic has a small fishing village being attacked by half man/half fish creatures thanks to some crazy scientific experiments. Odd for such a crazy violent film to be directed by a female, but quite a few of the scenes were added later and directed by someone else because Peeters didn't want to shoot all of the humanoids raping the town's women.

There are some funny "bad movie" kind of moments and plenty of gore that is quite awesome. Not to mention an insanely awesome ending that had all of us watching cheering aloud. On August 3rd Shout! Factory is releasing a new special edition DVD and Blu-Ray (!) of Humanoids as part of their Roger Corman Cult Classics. I can't wait to see fishmen in high definition.

The Party Animal - 1984 - Dir. David Beaird
Location: Micah's House
VHS Haul 2010

Over the past few weeks Micah has found some great old mom-n-pop video shops and other sales on VHS tapes and has bought over 200 great looking genre titles. Hopefully there will be plenty of new films to discover in the future with him, they will all hold the tag of VHS Haul 2010.

We wanted to watch a sex comedy and when the box to this claimed it to be the "raunchiest film of the decade" we had to go for it. Not sure if anything about the film is too over-the-top but there is plenty of nudity, after an extended male strip club sequence that had us all laughing pretty hard. Mainly because one of the guys kind of looked like Mad Men's John Hamm. Nothing about the film is too out of the ordinary for 80s sex comedies except that the protag's name is Pondo Sinatra and the soundtrack is quite awesome. Full of music by The Buzzcocks, The Fleshtones, ska outfit The Untouchables and much more. Oddly it seems no soundtrack was actually released, but you will definitely be bobbing your head throughout the film.

Jungle Holocaust aka Ultimo mondo cannibale- 1977 - Dir. Ruggero Deodato
Location: My Couch

Everyone, horror fan or not, has heard of Cannibal Holocaust. Not everyone has seen Deodato's first cannibal film, and finally I'm glad to be in the group that can say I have. This isn't as overly violent as its follow-up, but still has plenty of the staples. Unfortunately this also means animal death. Not too sure why Italian cannibal films have to have graphic animal death, but this is no different. A lot of it is animal-on-animal but there is a scene where a group fillets a live alligator. Pretty grisly stuff.

For a cannibal film there isn't a whole lot of actual eating of humans, but when they get to it all bets are off. I am not too familiar with most of Deodato's work but I'm definitely going to get to know it all. Especially since the third of his cannibal trilogy has Willie Aames in it!

Alternate Titles
- Last Cannibal World
- The Last Survivor
- Cannibal
- Carnivorous

The Black Gestapo - 1975 - Dir. Lee Frost
Location: My House

Pretty interesting blaxploitation flick about a militant black group who starts to take over for the white organized crime unit and steal from the people they started to protect. Some great violence and one of the leads is Charles Robinson (Mac from Night Court)!

Robin Hood - 2010 - Dir. Ridley Scott
Location: Regal Galaxy 10

Despite the bad things I heard about this film I was still going to see it. I was struck with joy by the Robin Hood tales since childhood and Russell Crowe couldn't be any worse than Kevin Costner. I didn't realize this was a prequel and I didn't always agree with everything they changed, but overall it wasn't a bad film.

Rock 'n' Roll High School - 1979 - Dir. Allan Arkush
Location: My Couch

I'm not sure if I can really sum up my feelings about this film. The Ramones are probably my favorite band of all time. Even though most of them, with the exception of the drummers and CJ, are dead they have left behind a lasting legacy of timeless music that pretty much everyone can enjoy. Forget what you might think about the UK scene - The Ramones are the true punk pioneers. Thanks to Allan Arkush and Roger Corman for bringing them to even more people in the late 70s with this film. I have seen it on VHS, DVD, 35mm and now Blu-Ray with the new edition from Shout! Factory and looks amazing. For the first time you can see the lovely P.J. Soles and Dey Young dancing in the gym, Mary Woronov with twin buns and, of course, Joey's extremely long, skinny legs in eye watering high definition. Not to mention all of the great Ramones tunes with amped up audio.

Yes, the movie is campy and the guys in the band can't act to save their lives, but it's hilarious. I don't think I could ever tire of watching it and I'm glad I can now have such a beautiful transfer to add to my collection.

Frontière(s) - 2007 - Dir. Xavier Gens
Location: My Couch
Netflix Instant

This new wave of French horror films are nuts! This came out as part of the After Dark Horrorfest's 8 Films to Die for and was probably the most outrageously violent one of that year, if not total. Plenty of crazy gore and situations on a Texas Chainsaw Massacre type model of a crazy family in a rural French setting. Definitely worth the watch.

Moon - 2009 - Dir. Duncan Jones
Location: Home

So many friends talked this film up that I didn't know if I would be let down. I wasn't. Sam Rockwell was definitely robbed by not getting an Oscar nomination because his performance is truly something wonderful. Don't know if it's quite up to the awesomeness of his role in the mid-90s college flick Glory Daze, heh, but it's pretty amazing.

Død snø aka Dead Snow - 2009 - Dir. Tommy Wirkola
Location: Home
Netflix Instant

Nazi zombies in the snowy Norwegian mountains? Yes please. Trailers and info on this film hit the horror blogs for quite some time ago but I just got around to it. Overall I had a good time but found it a little slow in parts. There are plenty of blood-soaked moments to make up for it though, as well as a guy getting some in the outhouse. Was i turned on or disgusted? I think I was disgusted because I was turned on, heh. It was also nice to have the film nerd character wearing a Braindead shirt.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Man Bites Dog (C'est arivé près de chez vous) - 1992 - Dir. Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel & Benoît Poelvoorde
Location: My Couch
Netflix Instant

For my 200th movie of the year I wanted to watch something I had not seen and something I had heard good buzz around. I perused my Instant Queue and decided on this low budget French film from the early 90s that has taken many people, Quentin Tarantino included, by storm. After watching it I can say that it was absolutely wonderful and I can't wait to buy it and watch it many times in the years to come.

Shot in the style of faux documentary a camera crew (consisting of a cameraman, sound guy and director) follow around Benoît who is a killer by trade. Instead of punching a clock and sitting in a cubicle he picks the right marks and exterminates them. While it's not an exact science he does have rules that he explains to the camera while reciting poetry and getting philosophical from time to time.

This film is laugh-out-loud funny, extremely violent and very, very dark. I love that for about the first half of the film I found myself laughing at the way Ben goes about killing people with his charismatic nature or how the film crew goes through sound guys like Spinal Tap went through drummers, and then something changed. About halfway through the tone completely shifts and the comedy drops off and everything gets super serious and dark. Even when the laughs are present there are some rough murder montages as Ben racks up the bodies and dumps them in the canal. The acting is tremendous and I especially love that the three directors play parts with the same names and Ben's actual parents and grandparents make appearances, evidently without the knowledge that he was playing a killer.

The violence is pretty graphic in certain scenes and Ben's total disregard for human life is shocking but the film's point of the over saturation of violence in the media and in entertainment really strikes through. If you thought Natural Born Killers conveyed that message well then you need to watch Man Bites Dog ASAP.

Zapped Again! - 1990 - Dir. Doug Campbell
Location: My House

Having seen the 80s teen sex comedy Zapped! it was only a matter of time before I had to watch the sequel made about eight years later. I was expecting the worst, but surprisingly I found it quite a bit of fun. The film takes place at the same high school and the kids of the failing science club come across a mysterious concoction in prune juice bottles that gives the main character telepathic powers. He uses this for revenge, laughs and, of course, blowing up girl's skirts and popping their tops.

The cast cannot compete with the epic duo of Scott Baio and Willie Aames from the first film, but it manages to keep the laughs coming and the zaniness at the top of the scale. As with most comedies of this ilk there are plenty of good looking girls. They even have the main female character as the type they make fun of in Not Another Teen Movie - with a ponytail, glasses and a penchant for learning. In my opinion she is the most attractive girl in the film, even with her nerdiness. There are also a couple of great small performances featuring Karen Black as an Italian substitute and a very hot Linda Blair as one of the teachers who wears some black lace underwear. Nice.

While the film doesn't surpass the original it's a worthy sequel. If you like this type of film pick this one up for sure.

Mongolian Death Worm - 2010 - Dir. Steven R. Monroe
Location: My Couch
SyFy Channel Original on my DVR

Who doesn't love a good giant killer animal film? They are the best and you have to thank the lovely SyFy Channel for keeping the grand tradition of giant animal films of the 50s and 60s alive. One of the newest films aired last weekend and I set my DVR right away. With a title like Mongolian Death Worm you didn't think I could pass it up, did you?

The plot centers around an American oil company in Mongolia (natch) that drills over the hidden tomb of Genghis Khan and unleashes the mythical guardians - giant freaking worms! A treasure hunter, played by Sean Patrick Flanery, is the only one who is on their trail and must stop them before they take over the country and destroy a small nearby village full of sick people. The whole secondary storyline with the village is weird and seems to only give a reason to have a female doctor/scientist companion to help. Pretty much everything at the village is rather boring except when the awesome cowboy looking sheriff is blasting away worms with his shotgun.

As with most of these films the acting is meh, and the FX are laughable. This is part of what makes watching these films so much fun. I do think it's funny that Flanery's character is fairly normal, for a treasure hunter in the deserts of Mongolia, until near the end when he begins to act delirious and on the verge of slapstick. I also realized that he laughs like a puppet.

It should also be of note that the director, Steven R. Monroe, is also helming the upcoming remake of I Spit on Your Grave. I won't hold this against him. We did chat for a little bit at Texas Frightmare Weekend about his upcoming film and he seems like a cool together guy. Maybe he just likes to make zany SyFy original films. There's nothing wrong with that.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story - 2007 - Dir. Jeffrey Schwarz
Location: My House

I have seen my fair share of Castle films, but not enough that's for sure. I know he was a top notch showman with tons of great gimmicks surrounding his films, and was the inspiration fo John Goodman's character is the great Dante film Matinee (1993). If I thought I loved this man before watching the doc it was nowhere near as much. A bunch of talking heads give stories about Castle's life and odd, iconic filmography. There are archival interviews with Castle himself and footage from his many premieres and tons of pictures. Giving interviews, aside from family and close friends, are the likes of Dante, John Landis, the late Forrest J. Ackerman, Stuart Gordon, Fred Olen Ray, the wonderful John Waters and many more.

I remember reading in one of Waters' books about how he would go to see The Tingler multiple times and search the theater early for a seat with the buzzing mechanism so he could get the special surprise. When I read that I wished I could have been there, but this doc makes me REALLY wish for the ability of time travel so I can go to one of Castle's outlandish premieres and experience what all of those kids did in the late 50s and early 60s.

Great documentary for fans of William Castle, the genre, or just film in general. He played an important role in the movie going experience and made some great films along the way.

The Proposal - 2009 - Dir. Anne Fletcher
Location: My House

When I first saw the trailers for this I didn't want to see it, but for some reason it began to fester in my mind. Something made me want to see it, but I never wanted to pay for it in the theater. I have no problems with Sandra Bullock, and actually think she's a little attractive, so could it really be that bad? It does have Betty White after all. Last week my girlfriend was going to watch this because is was On Demand so I decided to sit and watch it with her. It's not the best movie in the world, and not hilarious, but for a romantic comedy I did enjoy it quite a bit. The story is predictable, but there are some good laughs and Bullock and Reynolds do a decent job. For now my morbid curiosity has been sated - at least until the next big rom-com.

Ninja Assassin - 2009 - Dir. James McTiegue
Location: My Couch - Blu-Ray

Never got around to this one in theaters, and heard it was pretty lame. I don't think it's that bad. Actually if you want to look at this like a purely exploitation martial arts kind of film it's not half bad. The plot is meh, but the action and violence are heavy and entertaining. The worst part about the film is that its biggest bang happens before the opening credits roll. Fans of hyper-violence might just want to watch the first five minutes and then turn it off, but if you continue to watch you will see some pretty cool fight sequences.

I was happy to see that Ben Miles (Patrick from the Britcom Coupling) was in the film, but he's not a very big character. The guy who plays the main ninja is a Korean pop-star known as Rain and he will no doubt have a future in action films after everyone has seen his chiseled physique and quick moves from years as a dancer. Hopefully his next film will be a bit better.

Blood Rage - 1987 - Dir. John Grissmer
Location: Micah's House
Horror Movie Night

This film was shot in 1984, but not released until '87 for some reason. I don't know what the hold up was because this is a fun slasher with a diving board sex scene! The story sees a pair of twin boys at a drive-in and one of them murders a guy with an axe while he's having a backseat romp with his date. He then pins the murder on his stunned comatose brother who is taken to a mental health facility for the next ten years. The crazy brother finally figures it out and breaks out of the facility to come home and confront his brother on Thanksgiving. There are some nice bloody death scenes, funny typical 80s characters and a mother character who cannot seem to make a phone call to save her damn life.

Great pick for Horror Movie Night, but the slashers usually are. There is a DVD version, but it is cut. For the full gory film look for the VHS version.

Stingray - 1978 - Dir. Richard Taylor
Locaton: Micah's House
Weird Wednesday

Next up in our weekly (usually) double feature was the Drafthouse's Weird Wednesday pick of Stingray, aka Abigail Wanted. It concerns a couple of of criminal and over a million dollars worth of drugs hidden in a car on a lot before they are picked up by the cops. When they get out and go for their merchandise they see the car, a Corvette Stingray, being sold and driven off the lot. Now the rest of the movie has the criminals, with some friends including a ruthless woman named Abigail, chasing after the guys in the Stingray to get their stuff back.

This film is highly entertaining, yet very puzzling in tone. One moment cops are murdered, shot in the head and their cruiser blown up while about three seconds later the campy xylophone score kicks in and slapstick comedy fills the screen. Multiple times in the film it switches between action/drama and comedy which feels a bit weird, but thanks to some great acting and amazing car chase sequences it holds your attention the whole time. The only real thing I would change is shortening the film's epilogue scene by about fifteen minutes.

Stingray is not currently available on DVD, keep an eye out for the VHS though and maybe someday it'll hit the disc.

The Babysitters - 2007 - Dir. David Ross
Location: My Couch - Netflix Instant

When I saw this trailer a few years ago I wanted to watch it but somehow forgot all about its existence. Now Netflix has it available for Instant Watch so what a great way to finally watch this film about teenage babysitters who start sleeping with the dads for some extra cash. I wasn't really sure what to expect. Would this be super sexy with tons of nudity and a late night Cinemax feel? The answer turned out to be quite different. At times the film is sexy but there's not much in the way of nudity and the production value and story told elevate it high above the direct-to-late-night-permium-cable category. These girls see the way they can raise money for college or just buying a bunch of frivolous crap. You really feel for these young girls and they have some great, powerful moments along the way.

John Leguizamo plays the first dad to get the ball rolling and his performance as an unhappily married man finding himself through his teenage "plaything" is great. But the real star of this film is the leader of "The Babysitters," Shirley played by Katherine Waterston. She delivers a wonderful performance and looks quite attractive until you concentrate on her face and realize she looks almost exactly like her dad - Sam Waterston. Eek!

At times I really wanted this film to delve into balls-out exploitation, and it does in a minor way, but the more substance heavy story turned out much more than I imagined and left me glad that watched the film.

La noche de Walpurgis aka Werewolf Shadow - 1971 - Dir. León Klimovsky
Location: Mi Casa

This past November Spanish horror icon Paul Naschy passed away due to cancer. His name was one I have been aware of for some time but never watched many of his films. This is something I want to change, and if this film is any indication of the quality I can't wait to continue. Two women are driving through the French countryside looking for the tomb of a possible female vampire. They stay at the castle of Waldemar Daninsky (Naschy), find the tomb and accidently resurrect her. The countess' bloodthirst is not their only problem as the full moon grows near and Daninsky is a werewolf.

The film is sexy, stylish and full of atmosphere. Splatter flicks and high action are fun sometimes, but it's nice to sit back and watch a horror film more artistic and expressionist in nature. Naschy makes a damn fine wolf man, right up there with Lon Chaney, Jr as a matter of fact. I know he portrays a werewolf in multiple flicks and can't wait to watch another. Any suggestions?

Alternate Titles
- The Werewolf Versus the Vampire Woman
- Shadow of the Werewolf
- Walpurgis Night

Iron Man 2 - 2010 - Dir. Jon Favreau
Location: Galaxy 10

Had to go see the sequel to the awesome first film. Growing up I read comics but was never really that in to Iron Man. Favreau and Robert Downey, Jr changed that a couple years ago. The first film made me love the narcissistic Tony Stark and cheer for the red and gold flying man/machine. The sequel was very enjoyable, but not to the level of its predecessor. The new additions to the cast were mostly great, with the exception of Scarlett Johansson who was a little blah. Her action scenes were great, but her acting was not up to the level of the other performers. Loved Sam Rockwell as Stark's business nemesis Justin Hammer and Don Cheadle taking over as Lt. Col. Rhodes is wonderful. Who doesn't love Cheadle? The best new character is definitely Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko. What a great villain who is sadly not in the film near enough.

A lot of people said the middle act was very slow and it wasn't as bad as I feared, but there are certain things near the end that were a little sigh worthy. Overall, I'm glad I went to see the film and will go see any more that come in the series. This also managed to hype me for the upcoming Thor, Captain America and Avengers films. Hooray!

Julie & Julia - 2009 - Dir. Nora Ephron
Location: My Couch

I saw this on opening weekend last year, but my girlfriend's mother never got around to it. So for Mother's Day (actually the night before) we had her over to watch the film and I made the centerpiece dish of the film Boeuf Bourguignon. After working in a hot kitchen for close to five hours on this meal it was nice sit back and watch this fun little flick. I really dig this for some reason, and a big part of it could be my love of cooking and desire to write. I really connect with this, no matter how odd it seems. If you have seen this you know that Meryl Streep is absolutely outstanding in the role of Julia Child and Stanley Tucci makes a great husband. If you haven't seen the film I highly suggest you give it a watch, if for nothing else than the Julia segments.

The Human Centipede (First Sequence) - 2009 - Dir. Tom Six
Location: Inwood Theater
Midnight Madness

This film is the much ballyhooed new gross-out film about a deranged surgeon who wants to use the gastric system to make a Siamese triplet. Yes, this involve surgically connecting three people ass to mouth. It's not as graphic as I expected from the hype surrounding it and initially I was a little let down, but it did not take away from my overall enjoyment of the film. It is a rather small cast and one of the girls is not the best actress, but that's alright because she doesn't have too much to say throughout. The doctor played by Dieter Laser is wonderfully creepy and at the same time a German Christopher Walken doppelganger.

If you look past the hype and watch the film you get a slowly unfolding tale with a ton of creepy tone and some rather unsettling moments. Director Tom Six is working on a sequel, titled The Human Centipede (Full Sequence), which will involve twelve people joined together and he promises it to be nearly unwatchable. I'll try to keep my expectations down, but I'll definitely check it out.

The film is currently On-Demand with some cable providers and making the late night rounds across the country. Give it a shot and see what you think.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Left Behind

I'm horrible about doing this. I fell 68 movies behind. Same on me. I'm just going to list these titles to catch up and then hopefully start this up again and try to stay a little more current. There will be a post coming up with my belated thoughts on the films I saw at the Dallas International Film Festival - whenever I get time.


116 - Brief Interviews with Hideous Men – 2009 – Dir. John Krasinski
117 - Big Fan- 2009 – Dir. Robert D. Siegel
118 - BMX Bandits – 1983 – Dir. Brian Trenchard-Smith
119 - Alice in Wonderland – 2010 – Dir. Tim Burton
120 - Uncle Sam – 1997 – Dir. William Lustig
121 - [rec] 2 – 2009 – Dir. Jaume Balaguero & Paco Plaza
122 - Van Wilder: Freshman Year – 2009 – Dir. Harvey Glazer
123 - Planet 51 - 2009 - Dir. Jorge Blanco
124 - Precious - 2009 - Dir. Lee Daniels
125 - Night of the Creeps - 1986 - Dir. Fred Dekker
126 - Mother (Madeo) - 2009 - Dir. Bong Joon-Ho
127 - Inseminoid - 1981 - Dir. Norman J. Warren
128 - Dear Zachary - 2008 - Dir. Kurt Kuenne
129 - Troll - 1986 - Dir. John Carl Buechler
130 - Modern Problems - 1981 - Dir. Ken Shapiro
131 - Johnny Suede - 1991 - Dir. Tom DiCillio
132 - Hot Tub Time Machine - 2010 - Dir. Steve Pink
133 - Troll 2 - 1990 - Dir. Claudio Fragrasso
134 - Monster Shark - 1984 - Dir. Lamberto Bava
135 - A Day Without a Mexican - 2004 - Dir. Sergio Arau
136 - The Unborn 2 - 1994 - Dir. Rick Jacobson
137 - Darker Than Amber - 1970 - Dir. Robert Clouse
138 - Operation Condor - 1991 - Dir. Jackie Chan
139 - The Cat O' Nine Tails - 1971 - Dir. Dario Argento
140 - Escape from New York - 1981 - Dir. John Carpenter
141 - Oldboy - 2003 - Dir. Chan-wook Park
142 - Aerobi-cide (Killer Workout) - 1986 - Dir. David A. Prior
143 - Clash of the Titans - 2010 - Dir. Louis Leterrier
144 - Toy Soldiers - 1991 - Dir. Daniel Petrie, Jr
145 - Full Moon High - 1981 - Dir. Larry Cohen
146 - Witchery (La Casa 4) - 1988 - Dir. Fabrizio Laurenti
147 - The Pied Piper of Hutzovina - 2006 - Dir. Pavla Fleischer
148 - Speed - 1994 - Dir. Jan de Bont
149 - The Collector - 2009 - Dir. Marcus Dunstan
150 - Taxidermia - 2006 - Dir. Gyorgy Palfi
151 - A Town Called Panic - 2009 - Dir. Stephane Aubier & Vincent Patar - DIFF
152 - Toy Story - 1995 - Dir. John Lasseter
153 - Toy Story 2 - 1999 - Dir. John Lasseter
154 - Date Night - 2010 - Dir. Shawn Levy
155 - The Loved Ones - 2009 - Dir. Sean Byrne - DIFF
156 - The Boy Who Could Fly - 1986 - Dir. Nick Castle
157 - Waking Sleeping Beauty - 2009 - Dir. Don Hahn - DIFF
158 - Thunder Soul - 2010 - Dir. Mark Landsman - DIFF
159 - My Tehran For Sale - 2009 - Dir. Granaz Moussavi - DIFF
160 - Earthling - 2010 - Dir. Clay Lifford - DIFF
161 - Cracks - 2009 - Dir. Jordan Scott - DIFF
162 - The Good, The Bad,The Weird - 2008 - Dir. Ji-woon Kim - DIFF
163 - Lemmy - 2010 - Dir. Greg Olliver & Wes Orshoski - DIFF
164 - Brotherhood - 2010 - Dir. Will Canon - DIFF
165 - Obselidia - 2010 - Dir. Diane Bell - DIFF
166 - Down Terrace - 2009 - Dir. Ben Wheatley - DIFF
167 - Spiral - 2007 Dir. Adam Green & Joel David Moore
168 - City of Life and Death - 2009 - Dir. Chuan Lu - DIFF
169 - Kick Ass - 2010 - Dir. Matthew Vaughn
170 - The Room - 2003 - Dir. Tommy Wiseau
171 - Tales from the Script - 2009 - Dir. Peter Hanson
172 - Hot Chili - 1985 - Dir. William Sachs
173 - Demonwarp - 1988 - Dir. Emmett Alston
174 - L.A. Streetfighters (Ninja Turf) - 1985 - Dir. Woo-sang Park
175 - Spaceballs - 1987 - Dir. Mel Brooks
176 - Teenape Goes to Camp - 2008 - Dir. Chris Seaver
177 - Bitch Slap - 2009 - Dir. Rick Jacobson
178 - C Me Dance - 2009 - Dir. Greg Robbins
179 - A Nightmare on Elm Street - 1984 - Dir. Wes Craven
180 - Brothers - 2009 - Dir. Jim Sheridan
181 - Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans - 2009 - Dir. Werner Herzog
182 - Link - 1986 - Dir. Richard Franklin
183 - 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams - 2009 - Dir. Tim Sullivan
184 - Survival of the Dead - 2009 - Dir. George A. Romero
185 - A Nightmare on Elm Street - 2010 - Dir. Samuel Bayer
186 - Found Footage Festival, Vol 2 - 2007 - Dir. Joe Pickett & Nick Prueher
187 - Night Warning - 1983 - Dir. William Asher
188 - Blood on the Highway - 2008 - Dir. Barak Epstein & Blair Rowan
189 - Mega Piranha - 2010 - Dir. Eric Forsberg