Thursday, May 30, 2013

Episode #237: Cant Stop the Purple Rain

Welcome back everyone!!!

This week Sammy had to bail due to a scheduling conflict but thankfully The Projection Booth's Mike White stepped in and filled the void!!! Will and Mike covered Purple Rain (1984) starring Prince and Cant Stop the Music (1981) starring The Village People!!! Its that kind of show Baby!!!

Direct download: ggtmc_237.mp3

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Voicemails to 206-666-5207


The Call of Cthulhu (2005)

“We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.” - H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu

Directed by Andrew Leman

Runtime: 47 minutes

Time for madness, strange cults, stranger works of art and academics going insane. Today review is the silent black and white film The Call of Cthulhu. Brought to you by the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society.

The film opens in the most fitting place for a Lovecraft film, in a sanitarium. The Man (played by Matt Foyer) tells The Listener (played by John Bolen) to destroy some notes that The Man inherited from his great uncle. This leads into first of the three stories that makes up The Call of Cthulhu.

The first story is the notes The Man's great uncle took about a young man named Henry Wilcox (play by Chad Fifer). Henry is having strange and odd dreams that lead him to create a odd clay sculpture. These events lead to Henry becoming ill from these dreams and then forgetting all about the dreams.

Story number two has The Man's great uncle at 1908 archaeologist convention. While at the convention he meets Inspector Legrasse (played by David Mersault) from New Orleans. Legrasse has with him a strange statue he found while raiding a weird cult gathering and wants to know if anyone at the convention can tell him more about it. The collected archaeologists know a little bit more about the statue and the cult it is from but not enough to satisfy Legrasse's questions.

The Man stumbles upon the third story while carrying out his job as an geologist. One of the rocks he is looking at is wrapped in a newspaper from New Zealand. It has a story about a derelict fishing ship and a half crazed survivor. So The Man takes off at once for New Zealand to speak to this survivor only to find that the survivor has gone to Norway. Arriving in Norway The Man finds that the survivor has died and left a journal of his account. 

Somewhere off the New Zealand coast the fishing ship Alert comes across a small uncharted island. Being a brave and adventurous fishermen decide to explore the island. Unfortunately for the crew of Alert they have stumbled upon the island of R'lyeh home to Cthulhu. Two of the sailors live long enough to return to the ship. One dies of fright on learning Cthulhu is chasing the ship. The only survivor rams the ship into Cthulhu forcing it to go back to sleep.

Make or Break: What makes this movie for me is the silent black and white filming. It makes it feel the same as reading the stories. As for breaks it would have to be the misquoting of the original work. This is a minor thing and really the only misstep they made.

MVT: Again the whole atmosphere created by the black and white filming. It provides shadows to add suggestion to the imagination and captures the feel of the story.

Score: 8.25/10

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


I havent finished watching this, it is still going on as I write this (yet another shootout, more explosions), but I can safely say I hate this movie with a passion.

However, if the filmmakers trot out Kuato, I am going to go ballistic-mad-hate on this and everyone associated with it.

Up to now, this remake has already replayed (or should I pun "recalled"?) many of the great scenes from the original (e.g. the scene at the airport where Quaid has to disguise himself to try to get past the guards; the scene where someone comes to Quaid to try and talk him out of his delusion) and that has roused my ire. But, I'm tellin' ya, if the filmmakers trot out Kuato, I am gonna be so fuckin !!*@(&**)@#*(&^@#.

Small favors: the filmmakers have resisted the temptation of having a Johnny Cab cameo.

I am no fan of Le Cinema du Len Wiseman; he is the very epitome of a soulless hack filmmaker whose films are busy and loud and without a shred of personality.

Should we consider Wiseman's continued attempts to fetishize his wife (Kate Beckinsale) a personal artistic statement?

Actually, this is a good example of a Wiseman miscalculation: he wants us to believe Kate is a badass but he doesnt realize that man-girl co-star Jessica Biel could probably rip Kate's head right off: Kate is in fine shape physically (looking like the aging is comin' on a bit strong around the face, I thought) but Jessica has got that man-girl hard body (she could probably kick my ass too).

TOTAL RECALL (the original) was a big budget film for its time but, with this latest incarnation, the filmmakers went even bigger (well, CGI bigger) when Wiseman and company should have scaled this way back and instead focused on playing head games with the audience, have the audience really unsure if what is happening on screen is just a delusion of some sort.  Remember that Roger Corman produced flick BRAIN DEAD with Bill Paxton? That was made for $1.50 and I remember that film playing head games with me and I had a great time with it. I remember how freaked I was watching TOTAL RECALL (the original) in theaters as Verhoeven put some twists in and played games with us as Schwarzenegger encountered video messages that he left for himself, etc.  But no, not so with this new TOTAL RECALL. It doesnt help that we have seen everything before (again, these are the same scenes from the original, replayed/recalled) but there is no emphasis on (or fun with) playing with the audience.  At no point did I think Colin Farrel was some average joe who brain was being screwed up (I did with Schwarzenegger). This new version of TOTAL RECALL is more concerned with shootouts and running and jumping and things exploding and bad CGI.

Colin Farrell is woefully miscast here. You simply do not put Colin Farrell as the lead of a big budget popcorn action movie. Oh, he can run and jump and fight and shoot like a pro but there is nothing about Colin Farrell that pulls you into the movie or his character, he is not the sort of person you want to take you along on a rollercoaster ride, he's a bit morose and dour, no fun. Colin Farrell is no Schwarzennegger (in many ways). I had the same problem with Farrell in the FRIGHT NIGHT remake - there was no giddiness in his playing a vampire, you get the impression he didnt really want to be doing it, that it was beneath him. Colin Farrell is no Chris Sarandon (in many ways).

And Kate Beckinsale is no Michael Ironside (in many ways). She doesnt exude menace at all. At all! The film desperately needed an oversized villain personality here and Kate just cannot bring it.

As I write this, the film has just ended and I am happy to report that Kuato is a no-show.

However, the climax is a fight between Colin Farrell and...Bryan Cranston?!?!?  When Stallone had a brawl with John Lithgow (of all people!) at the climax of CLIFFHANGER, I was able to go with it(!). But Colin Farrell fighting Bryan Cranston?!??! Please.

And Bryan Cranston is no Ronny Cox (in many ways).

Graveyard Of Horror (1972)

When I was young, my family used to vacation in Long Beach Island, New Jersey.  For one magical week a year, my world was filled with getting super-cool iron-ons applied to shitty quality tee shirts, buying puffy monster stickers and Slurpees from the 7-11 (a chain we didn’t have anywhere near where I live, then or now) while wearing no shoes (I had astonishingly tough soles; I even unknowingly bent a nail once when I stepped on it, though I also was cursed with grotesquely wide feet which made buying footwear a chore and flat feet which I’m sure will absolutely not come back to haunt me in my coming autumn years), and listening to some of the greatest soft/pop rock songs ever written (most music today sucks in my opinion; there, I said it).  Walking through a five and dime’s toy aisle was a world of discovery ignited by the smell of made-in-Taiwan rubber monsters, only one of which you could afford to take home (decisions, decisions) and subsequently lose while playing with it in the ocean.  Now, I don’t remember if I related this particular story before, but if so, I’m going to tell it again anyway on the off chance there’s someone reading this who’s not one of my five loyal readers (thanks for taking the time out of your day, guys and gals).  

Anyway, one year my family took a little road trip South to Brigantine and wound up at Brigantine Castle.  The castle was a massive building built on a pier, and it was essentially a year-round (or at least summer-round) haunted house.  You may have seen the cool commercial broadcast on one of the New York or New Jersey stations at the time (but you can find it on Youtube these days).  This place even had a guy with no head but whose body was still alive!  As a monster kid from the day I was born, this place was Mecca.  The pier leading to the haunted house’s entrance proper was lined with games of chance like you’d find on any carnival midway.  I want to say (and I’m going to say anyway, because I’m the one telling the story) the night we visited the castle was stormy (“the night was sultry…”), but we inched closer and closer, and soon there it was: the ticket booth.  It was set, if memory serves (and how often does it, actually?), in an alcove where waiting victims could amble around, and behind the booth was a set of steps leading up to (what I was sure in my pre-adolescent mind could only be) the very gates of Hell.  

Sudden trepidation, nay, panic set in.  The impending fulfillment of my every horror-fueled fantasy was rapidly dissolving into a fight or flight scenario.  The tipping point arrived with the sort of abruptness usually reserved for car crashes and the removal of tape from the hairier parts of the human body, but it wasn’t anything I saw that did it.  No horrid latex mask-wearing ghoul or grue-drenched beastie put me over the edge.  No, it was the shuddersome first notes of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata And Fugue In D Minor blaring out over the loudspeaker that did it.  The hair-thin strand of courage remaining in my soul snapped.  Like the proverbial shot in the ass, I took off down the pier and as far away from the castle as I could get.  I don’t know how far I got, but I knew that my siblings went into Brigantine Castle while I sat outside terrified, blubbering, and sulking that I wasn’t in there, too.  Funny enough, we never did return to Brigantine on any subsequent vacations.  To top it all off, everyone who went in refused to tell me any of what they saw.  Bastards.  I love ‘em.

Michael Sherrington (Bill Curran) returns to Binbrook Castle in search of his wife Elizabeth.  He is told that she died while in labor with their stillborn child.  None of Michael’s in-laws want anything to do with the man, nor do they have any intention of helping him out.  Robert, the Earl of Binbrook and “the world’s greatest scientist” has also gone missing.  Mr. Fowles (Víctor Israel), the graveyard caretaker is cantankerous and uncooperative in the extreme, clearly not hiding anything.  Meanwhile, there is a pair of Halloween-masked goons running around snatching people and feeding them to some…thing which is kept buried (alive?) in a decrepit crypt.  Who’s behind it all?  Where’s Robert?  Why are coffins in the cemetery empty?  I guarantee, even if you care enough to have these questions answered, by the time “The End” flashes up onscreen you’ll wish you didn’t.

Miguel Madrid’s (under the pseudonym Michael Skaife) Graveyard Of Horror (aka Necrophagus aka The Butcher Of Binbrook aka Necromaniac; this movie has more pseudonyms than a black ops agent’s safety deposit box) is a Gothic Horror film in the mold of the (rightfully) influential films of Mario Bava.  I will say this: the scenery looks authentically atmospheric.  Outside of that, the film is crap, and worse, it’s incompetent, boring crap.  Before I dig my talons into it too far, though, I find it prudent to remind you readers once more (and myself by proxy) that what we get to see in one country may not be even close to resembling the filmmakers’ original intent or the film’s original form.  According to IMDB, however, there do not appear to be any other cuts of the film extant, so I have to assume that this is how the film was exhibited everywhere it was released.  By that same token, the film was released in America by Independent-International Pictures, and it was often the case that films would be filleted by producers looking to up the exploitable elements of a film for the drive-in crowd.  Nevertheless, Independent-International also released Al Adamson’s joyously execrable Dracula Versus Frankenstein, and that was apparently unmolested (the same of which cannot be said for that film’s audience), so it is entirely possible that they just slapped an English dub on Graveyard Of Horror and sent it on its way.  So, an audience can only view a film in the form(s) it is available.  Is it right to not take into account the production/distribution background of a film?  Maybe a little, but that doesn’t in the slightest change the experience I had watching this specific movie.

And it was painful.  The film adheres a little too stringently to the old screenwriting adage, “get in late, get out early.”  Scenes start and end at a whim, sometimes with absolutely (and literally) nothing happening.  Actions don’t line up in any sort of logical fashion, and many times characters will show up for a single, quick shot and then disappear until they just show up again (I won’t say “until they’re needed,” because so few of these ones are).  The story makes no sense at all, even discounting that quality as a requisite for a good film.  Who we assume is the main character (yes, Michael) goes through some trauma, and then is only depicted for almost the entire rest of the movie as a faceless shape peregrinating around aimlessly (like the plot).  Was Mr. Curran’s price too high to include him in the whole film?  The world holds its breath.  

And speaking of holding one’s breath, no one in the film is capable of doing that.  By this I mean the acting is so overwrought by every performer in this thing, Rudolf Klein-Rogge must be positively spinning in his grave.  The monster is never shown until the very end, and it is so wildly unimpressive the DVD distributors simply slapped its likeness on their cover art.  Madrid uses POV camera techniques throughout in an effort to draw the viewer into the story in some way.  Unfortunately, it only succeeds in killing an already non-existent pace and comes off as shooting for a goal above this film’s station.  This is a dull, vapid, bloodless, sleaze-less black hole of a film.  It is not entertaining as a straight film or from an ironic perspective.  If you put this film on as background viewing at a party, you had damn well better be prepared for a riot, because if anything could singlehandedly piss off a broad spectrum of filmgoers, Graveyard Of Horror is it.

Make Or Break:  The first few scenes of the film set up the muddy storytelling the rest of the film embraces like it’s in a death roll.  The opening scene (which is recycled a very short way into the film) has Michael literally throwing dirt at the camera lens.  Normally, I would applaud taking a risk like that, but here it winds up imparting the impression that this is the filmmakers’ attitude toward the viewer.  I don’t go down this route as a writer often, but fuck this movie.  Now you know why my introduction ate up over half this review.

MVT:  As I said, the rural Spanish backdrop is great to look at, and the castle interiors are wonderful.  They just weren’t filmed or assembled in any sort of satisfying way.

Score:  3/10

Sunday, May 26, 2013


The history of popular culture is littered with examples of individuals who couldnt handle fame & celebrity, who were capital-D-Destroyed by fame, who were swallowed up by drug use, who were 
[ add-your-own-melodramatic-blurb-here ], but I dont think there is any as fascinating, electrifying and movingly tragic as Elvis Presley.

THIS IS ELVIS is a superficial, "Elvis-for-Dummies"-like recap of Elvis Presley's life and career. It's an extraordinarily inept documentary, from the decision of the filmmakers to include highly expendable re-enactments (with actors playing Elvis) of some not very important moments in Elvis' life (e.g. Elvis driving up his driveway and going into his house and saying "Yes" to a sandwich offered by another actor presumably playing his maid) to the decision of the filmmakers to have Elvis (actually, an unconvincing voice impersonator) narrate and comment on the events we are shown of Elvis' life via footage of the real Elvis (but the documentary starts with Elvis' death, so the film is being narrated by a dead man? Maybe Sam Mendes watched THIS IS ELVIS before directing AMERICAN BEAUTY and stole that idea) to the filmmakers repeated use of real Elvis footage out of its proper context (as when Elvis is about to do his 1968 TV special, and that fake dead Elvis narration is telling us how excited he is to be in rehearsals for the 1968 TV special but the filmmakers are showing rehearsal footage from THATS THE WAY IT IS, two years later! then, the filmmakers illustrate Elvis' return-to-live-concert-performing 1969 Vegas shows with concert footage also taken from THATS THE WAY IT IS and even footage from ELVIS ON TOUR from 1972!).

But, like the title says, There is Elvis, Here is Elvis, That is Elvis, at the center of the film, the entire arc of his career, presented via footage (taken from TV, theatrical movies, home movies) of the real Elvis. THIS IS ELVIS offers no depth or insight into Elvis but you cant help but be moved when you follow that 1950s, young, innocently electrifying Elvis to the 1977 fat-man-squeezed-into-a-garish-Vegas-jumpsuit melting away as he sings the anthem of all soon-to-be-dead people, "My Way".

At the time of this film's original release in 1981, before the internet, before YouTube,  even before the common availability of VHS tapes, some of the footage in THIS IS ELVIS was simply incredible to behold: hilarious footage of 1974 Elvis, wearing very Elvis-ey sunglasses and a cool, albeit elaborately designed, karate gi, practicing karate at a karate school (hilarious because Elvis is practicing karate at a karate school while wearing those Elvis-y sunglasses and a cool, albeit elaborately designed, karate gi and I think he is wearing his usual bling too; when he takes the sunglasses off, he looks completely wasted); footage from the 1977 TV Special (this documentary is still the only way to see the clearest footage (however short) of this TV Special; even today, the 1977 TV Special remains officially unreleased and any footage of this TV special that you may find on the internet is always blurry, poorly duplicated).  The version of THIS IS ELVIS that recently aired on the Encore cable channel had footage of Elvis arriving with entourage to one of his concerts circa ELVIS ON TOUR, and quite clearly, quite audibly expounding to his bodyguards on just how great the blowjob he received from some chick the night before was (quite great apparently and the "guys" / bodyguards are yukking it up) (I remember this scene being very audibly dubbed by a very obvious voice impersonator to soften up what Elvis says (I remember fake overdubbed Elvis saying something like "...that girl I was with last night, she could raise the dead..." and the "guys" / bodyguards still yukking it up like jackasses but this Encore version is quite clearly real Elvis saying " know that girl I was with last night, oh man, she gave great head boy...hey joe, that chick last night gave the greatest head I've had...")).

There was an extended version of THIS IS ELVIS on early VHS tapes (THIS IS ELVIS was packaged in one of those oversized plastic video boxes that most Warner Brothers films were packaged in during those early days of the video boom) featuring even more incredible footage including footage from Elvis' first not-very-successful engagement in Las Vegas in 1956, backstage footage of Elvis jammin' with Liberace(!) and a simply incredible version of "Unchained Melody" which is an outtake of the footage filmed for the 1977 TV Special...if the 1977 version of "My Way" is unavoidably maudlin and turgid (you cant help it with lyrics like those found in this song) and which is given real power by the special effect that is the incredible meting man who happens to be singing the song, this "Unchained Melody" is the exact opposite: it is a gut-wrenching plea scream from Elvis, "...I need your love, I need your love...", he's still melting away, even more so, this is in tighter close-up than the footage shot for "My Way" but the guy is just bringing it, giving it everything, when he sings "...Are you still Miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnee...", its like...its like...well, remember Pacino's silent scream at the end of GODFATHER III? Its like that, only with a musical is the one of the most devastatingly sad things I have ever seen / heard...

this footage hints at the real tragic story of Elvis' life that the full-of-fluff THIS IS ELVIS never really wants to come close to...

the footage of a press conference with the tell-all bodyguards who wrote the tabloid expose book ELVIS: WHAT HAPPENED is real juicy stuff (its shocking how confident and convincing the bodyguards are as they talk to the reporters) but the filmmakers behind THIS IS ELVIS try to shrug the bodyguards off by having that fake dead Elvis narration basically undercut the bodyguards' credibility, but then real Elvis unintentionally undermines the filmmakers intentions to whitewash everything because the next footage is of a pasty faced fat Elvis from the 1977 TV Special, but then the filmmakers behind THIS IS ELVIS try to shrug off pasty faced fat Elvis by having the voice of Elvis flunkie Joe Esposito (or maybe it's a voice-impersonator-Joe Esposito? You cant trust anything the filmmakers are giving you here) says "...Elvis accepted his appearance, and so did his the end, Elvis' greatest gift, his incredible voice, never left him..." but then real Elvis unintentionally undermines the filmmakers intentions to whitewash everything by not only forgetting the lyrics to "Are You Lonesome Tonight" but then trying charm the audience by "improvising" the spoken bridge of the song and this "improvisation" is some obviously scripted schtick but Elvis is so whacked out on pharmaceuticals that he struggles to remember the script and really has to improvise through his clouded mind...

The filmmakers, ever respectful, have "An American Trilogy" play over footage of Elvis' funeral and that is a pretty shameless choice by the its own obvious, tacky, exaggerated way, it works, it may make you choke up (especially the fans)...but this bit of bombast, this need to deify its subject, merely points up the shortcomings of THIS IS ELVIS... 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Instant Action: Anaconda (1997)

I have a house full of snakes, methinks this film got some snake facts wrong!

Written By: Hans Bauer, Jim Cash, & Jack Epps Jr.
Directed By: Luis Llosa

Anaconda answers the age old question of what you get when a guy from Paraguay, via Louisiana, and by way of Yonkers adopts a Cajun accent in the Amazon. I'm not sure who was asking such a question, but Jon Voight sure as hell is going to answer said question. His character is the end all and be all of American actors adopting horrendous foreign accents. He may think he's adopting a South American accent, but he really is just a New Yorker doing a horrendous Cajun accent. It shouldn't be surprising that Mr. Voight is easily the reason to watch Anaconda. His character is insanely terrible, yet eminently watchable. If one were a better writer than I they might say that his madness is intoxicating. When he's reciting a prayer while gasping for breath as he kills someone, well dammit, that's not the type of cinema that comes along every day.

The rest of Anaconda is pretty darn terrible. The animatronics actually aren't all that bad, but when mixed with the CG the result is quite displeasing to the eye. Any time the CG is in use the action takes on a fake veneer that is impossible to look past. It's good for a chuckle, but that's not a positive in regards to the film. When your film is being sold on the idea of a giant killer snake it would do the movie well to make sure the giant killer snake looks believable.

The acting is, well, it's of the sort one should expect from a movie like Anaconda. I will admit to getting a perverse pleasure from seeing a few of the actors meet their demise. It's not like Kari Wuhrer is present for her acting chops, believe you me. Watching Ice Cube try to play a hard ass is always good for a laugh, kind of like watching Jennifer Lopez attempt to act in a movie not being directed by Steven Soderbergh.

All in all, Anaconda is terrible. That's the easiest and best way to describe the film. It is funny at times, and ridiculously over the top in a way that did bring a smile to my face. However, as an actual film there's nothing about Anaconda to recommend. The action is badly done, the film is too predictable to be a good creature feature, and the science is stupid in the worst of ways. My wife likes Anaconda a lot, and had I grown up with it I'm sure there's a possibility I would love it for its awfulness as well. However, having just discovered Anaconda I can safely say that the film never enters so bad it's great territory. Mr. Voight is fun to watch, and I did laugh a few times, but on the whole Anaconda is a waste of time.




Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Bug (1975)

One lazy, hot Sunday morning Carrie Parmiter (Joanna Miles) is dropped off by biologist husband James (Bradford Dillman) at the local church just outside of their little, half-horse town.  While listening to the Reverend Kern (James Greene) give his usual impassioned homily, the ground begins to tremble.  An earthquake tears up the small chapel and sends the parishioners scurrying outside.  Henry and Kenny Tacker (Frederic Downs and Jim Poyner, respectively) take off back to their ranch to check on their family and any property damage.  But as they approach, their pickup is suddenly engulfed in flames, killing the two right in front of son Tom (Jesse Vint), daughter Norma (Jamie Smith-Jackson), and her beau Gerry (Richard Gilliland).  While inspecting the large fissure which the tremors opened up on the Tackers’ land, Gerry discovers some very large, sluggish cockroaches.  Picking one up, he’s burned by heat from two abdominal antennae on the insect.  Taking the animal to James, the older man becomes fascinated with the creatures, while the surrounding area threatens to burn to the ground from the little critters.

Jeannot Szwarc’s Bug (aka Invasion Infernal and based off the Thomas Page novel The Hephaestus Plague, a title I personally love) is the last film which legendary mogul William Castle had a hand in producing before his death in 1977.  To call the results a mixed bag would be, I think, an accurate description.  The very first thing you notice about the film is its eerie sense of calm.  The look of the surroundings always appears as if a massive storm is about to break out at any second, but the area is in the midst of a massive heat wave with no relief in sight.  The filmmakers allow the story to build on its own, and there’s never any overt feeling that the audience is being set up for some massive, loud, explosive finale.  This is a film intended to get under your skin and give you chills.  It half-succeeds.  The idea of the bugs is intriguing, and as each new aspect of them is discovered, we’re compelled to want to learn more.  Unfortunately, the same serene development of the story also makes the film’s pace drag.  

The characters are odd, too.  They don’t really behave like people in their situation likely would, and most of them seem to have an almost laissez faire attitude to these potentially world-threatening animals.  Plus, the way they interact with each other, in spite of what we are shown about their relationships, comes off as aloof much of the time.  The friendships feel scripted, and I’m not fully certain that the actors were instructed to bring anything to the table other than a decent knack for memorization.  So, despite the good things in the film (and the more thought-provoking revelations are fascinating to some degree), the film itself stays in first gear up until about the last five or ten minutes.  But personally I like the payoff, so I can be counted as a fan of the movie.

The film evokes a sense of isolation, and it’s an aspect which is consistent throughout.  Szwarc composes much of the film in long shots, and oftentimes the actors are filmed very small within the frame.  They are tiny, insignificant, almost like how the audience might look at a bug right before stepping on it.  They are motes of dust in an incomprehensibly nigh-infinite universe.  But more than that, this approach emphasizes how alone these characters are, even those in relationships.  When Szwarc does move the camera (and he does it quite fluidly, I must say), it is usually to heighten the space around which a character is surrounded.  It’s sort of the cinematic equivalent of an ant farm (but I guess that argument could probably be made for every film in existence, couldn’t it?).  The relationships are as frosty as the dispassionate compositions, as well.  James keeps up a pleasant demeanor with friends and co-workers, but he shares very little screentime with his wife, and what scenes he does have with her generally consist of him dropping her off somewhere and then speeding away to go back to work.  Carrie is essentially a neglected wife, and this element culminates in the scene where she’s thinking about what to make for dinner (while meandering about in what I would swear was a slightly modified house set from The Brady Bunch).  Not only does Carrie talk to herself (we all do it sometimes, admit it), but she answers herself, to boot.  Miles’s performance in this sequence is just slightly unhinged.  It’s as if the reclusiveness this woman has been subjected to both in her marriage and in her contact (or lack thereof) with her community has finally made her snap a band, to use a medical term.  Her eyes squint and widen as she goes through the options available to her, and we in the audience wouldn’t be shocked if the next scene had James signing the papers to have her committed.  Of course, this theme of isolation continues right to the very end of the film, though it also takes on a decidedly more macabre timbre.

**POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD**  Bug is also, from my point of view, a kind of meditative apocalyptic (if we wish to look at the film in a theological sense, and I do, so we are) film.  Carrie believes in God.  James doesn’t.  The earthquake hits just as Kern hits his stride in a fire-and-brimstone sermon.  The omnipresent heat of the film conjures thoughts of roasting in hell.  The pit the cockroaches emanate from of is indicative of a gateway to Hell, replete with literally smoking denizens (the hole even glows red at one point).  The town is turned into a virtual conflagration as the bugs go about their business.  Yet, when everything starts to calm down a bit, it is James who is pushed past the breaking point, and it is through James’s defiance of the laws of Nature (and, by extension, God) that he will be pushed further  still.  Conversely, it can be argued that James is not at fault for his actions.  In effect, he is acting in accordance with Nature’s (and, by extension, God’s) “wishes.”  He is the catalyst for the bugs’ evolution.  He is pushing the insects beyond their limits, and it is this scientific quest which will aid them in reaching their ultimate form, a quasi legion of angels/devils who eventually achieve the goal it is faintly hinted was their absolute purpose from the very start.     

Make Or Break:  I love the very first shot of this film.  As the credits fade in and out, Szwarc gives us a long shot of the lone church sitting at, what appears to be, the end of a dirt road far outside of the town proper (another indication of the community’s general dismissal of religion and what that brings down upon them).  The wind whistles over the music-less soundtrack, and the camera slowly cranes up to take in the full expanse of the big empty which makes up the majority of this area.  It evinces a godforsaken texture that lasts the whole film, and it’s also some damn good-quality filmmaking.

MVT:  With that in mind, it’s this bleak, almost hopeless, purgatorial ambience first depicted in the film’s opening that attracts me to the film.  It’s the same sort of tone you get from end-of-the-world films, when you know there is no hope for salvation, there isn’t going to be some last minute miracle save, but you feel somehow obliged to witness the characters’ end, because in some bizarre way, it’s the honorable thing to do.

Score:  6.75/10

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Episode #236: The Corruption of the Civil Dead

Welcome back Gentle-Minions!!!

This week we bring you more Kickstarter goodness with selections from Brian (BTSJunki) Kelley with The Corruption of Chris Miller (1973) directed by Juan Antonio Bardem and a selection from Tom Chance with Ghosts...of the Civil Dead (1988) directed by John Hillcoat!!!

Direct download: ggtmc_236.mp3

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

I tre volti della paura (The Three Faces of Fear) / Black Sabbath (1963)

Arrow Films release of Mario Bava's I tre volti della paura  also features the American International Pictures cut of the film,but for the purposes of this review,it's the original cut i'm discussing.

I've only seen a handful of Bava's movies,but this is the one that i've always wanted to see - the image of Boris Karloff holding a severed head is one that's stuck with me for many years ever since i saw that ghastly photo in a book.....

I tre volti della paura begins with the story,The Telephone, which has been viewed by some as the weakest section of the film,and granted,it is a little predictable in terms of storytelling - but that's probably because there have been many films since which have covered the same ground. I can't fault Bava's direction though which manages to evoke an escalating sense of fear and paranoia as a call girl who is plagued by threatening phone calls. The resolution may be hurried,but it's still a nervewracking tale.

The next story,The Wurdalak,is perhaps the best known tale in the film. Set in 19th century Russia,it tells of a family awaiting the return of their father (Boris Karloff|) who had gone in pursuit of the dreaded Wurdalak - a living corpse which feeds on the blood of those it loves the most. When their father returns,they worst fears may have come true - that he may have become a Wurdalak,but can they bring themselves to destroy him before he feeds on them.....?

The Wurdalak is perhaps my favourite section of the film. It's incredibly atmospheric and creepy,bolstered by a chilling performance courtesy of Boris Karloff - the scene in which he rides off with his grandchild is one of the most cruel images i've seen in a film for a very long time....a family ultimately undone by their love for one another.

The final tale,The Drop Of Water, is Bava at his stylish best. Set in Victorian England,this story resolves around a nurse who unwisely steals a ring from the corpse of an elderly medium......and soon after finds herself tormented by a fly and the constant,neverending sound of the drop of water....

If it wasn't for The Wurdalak,The Drop Of Water would have been my favourite story. Bava's use of sound,light and shadow is impeccable.....what proves to be hell for the nurse was a sheer delight for this viewer as she pays a heavy price for stealing from the dead,and i'd be lying if i said i didn't jump a few times as Bava's cautionary tale unravelled to its more than satisfying conclusion.

So there you have it - three stories of madness,horror and death,each one different in their own way but all linked by the unmistakable style of Mario Bava. I can't recommend Arrow Films release highly enough and i urge all fans of cinema to seek this title out. 9/10

Friday, May 17, 2013

Episode #235: Alexandra's Brood

Welcome back to the GGtMC!!!

We have a couple Kickstarter picks for you guys and gals and our listeners brought it as usual!!! This week we cover Alexandra's Project (2003) directed by Rolf de Heer and selected by Maurice over at the Love That Album Podcast and we also cover The Brood (1979) directed by David Cronenberg and selected for coverage by Ryan K.!!!

Direct download: ggtmc_235.mp3

Emails to

Voicemails to 206-666-5207


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Zuma (1985)

Just recently, the ruins of a temple were discovered at the El Paraíso site in Peru, and they are estimated to be about five thousand years old.  This is no real great shakes, since (to my knowledge) Peru is rife with ancient ruins (no offense to any Peruvians who may be reading).  What this story does do, however, is brings up the idea that archaeology is still important in this modern world.  In an era when we have (or think we have) all this knowledge at the touch of a button (and we won’t get into a discussion about the unreliability of information on the internet this time around), there are still people kneeling under the hot sun, slowly scraping bits of dirt from long-forgotten relics of dead civilizations in the pursuit of some insight into how we became what we are.  

Real archaeologists toil away at tasks which are almost the equivalent of trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon, yet in films, this tedious, nigh-thankless profession is romanticized to an insane degree.  When cinematic relic-diggers aren’t raiding lost arks or going on wild crusades, they are excavating ancient monsters that revive, and only their quick wits and iron wherewithal can return these beasties to their graves.  Naturally, we can argue that just about every profession can be (and probably has been) glamorized on film to some degree, and I’m sure that, while real archaeologists love the attention films like Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom bring to their avocation, they’re also sick to death of having to answer questions from goofs in regards to the existence and “actual” properties of quasi-mystical objects.  Then again, I’m not an archaeologist, so maybe they’re not. 

Phillip (Mark Gil) and Isabel (Dang Cecilio) are archaeologists who have just uncovered a remarkably pristine temple in the side of a mountain.  As the men peregrinate around, Isabel is drawn to a secret room, inside which is a large sarcophagus.  As she paces closer to the tomb, a pair of large rubber snakes appear from inside, scaring the bejeezus out of the poor lady.  When the men investigate, however, the tomb is empty.  Meanwhile, a bunch of dead bodies are found outside the site with lethal amounts of venom in them.  Soon thereafter, the eponymous Zuma (Max Laurel, who looks vaguely like Milton Reid of Dr. Phibes Rises Again fame) stalks the streets of the Philippines, hungering for the hearts of virgin women.

It would seem that I have inadvertently been on a bit of a comic book adaptation jag as of late, because Jun Raquiza’s Zuma (aka Jim Fernandez’s Zuma) is yet another one.  One thing which I have seen far more of from countries other than the United States is a predilection for comic book stories centering on characters that could just as easily be called villains as anti-heroes.  This is no exception.  Zuma is the son of the Mayan god Kukulkan, the feathered serpent, and his whole schtick is violating and killing female virgins.  Early on in the film, he rapes Galela (Raquel Montesa) while her boyfriend Joseph (Mark Joseph) is bitten to death by cobras.  Galela then becomes the thrall of Zuma (sort of like a distaff Renfield), trapping women for him to kill.  Zuma resembles a Filipino version of the Incredible Hulk with a double-headed snake growing out of the back of his neck.  But unlike the Hulk, who would typically do some good intentionally or not, Zuma’s purpose is to rack up virgin corpses to “fulfill the rituals of his faith,” though to what end the audience is never privy.  We would expect some attempt to humanize Zuma (even Diabolik had Eva Kant), but he’s little more than animated brute force, although I would be hesitant to call him an elemental force.  Even after Zuma’s daughter Galema (Snooky Serna, who, God help me, actually looks a little bit like Snooki Polizzi) turns up, Zuma would kill her as soon as have her live with him.  Like Rawhead Rex and other reborn Elder Gods, Zuma’s needs are not human, ergo his actions are never other than inhumane. 

Sex plays a large part in the film, yet its treatment is quasi-puritanical.  The characters that have sex in the film are never shown naked having sex.  Nevertheless, the women who become Zuma’s prey often have their tops ripped off for a cheap tit thrill.  It’s incongruous, but interesting to note that nudity is only depicted in regards to violent acts against women.  The image of a snake is phallocentric to begin with, and the fact that Zuma has two rather large snake heads hanging off his shoulders is telling.  What’s more, his snakes are usually alert and pointing straight out, an indication of tumescence and the faint notion that Zuma’s actions are guided by his loins (and being the scion of a “War Serpent” only adds to the idea of violence making up for sexual inadequacies).  Galema also has snakes like her father (cleverly woven into her pigtails), but she has trouble controlling them.  Her life has been dictated by the influence of these phallic appendages, and they have kept her docile up until her nineteenth birthday.  She is also a virgin, but it’s through the love of Morgan the young soldier (Rey Abellana) that she will become their master.  So, even in its strongest female character, the film is controlled by male influences and all that that entails.

But for as much insanity as Raquiza and company put onscreen, Zuma is a bit of a slog from a pacing standpoint.  At over two hours and ten minutes long, there is a ton of fat that could have (and should have) been trimmed.  Whole sequences pass by where characters literally do absolutely nothing and then suddenly act.  My best guess is that this is the result of its comic book origins, because the plot feels much less like one story than it does a stringing together of multiple episodes with one set of credits on either end.  As soon as any part of a story (I won’t say “the” story, due to the variegated nature at play here) gets interesting, the film’s gears are swiftly shifted (you can almost hear the filmmakers grindin’ ‘em ‘til they’re findin’ ‘em), and the audience is back at square one.  All well and good, but with each shift, there is a new set-up and build up, and it makes the going difficult.  Add to all of this, a deus ex machina that makes practically everything that came before irrelevant, and you have one hot mess of a film.  All of that said, I still found myself liking this movie, largely because it is so much larger than life and so incomprehensible.  It’s like examining a car crash photo and not quite being able to make out what exactly you’re looking at.  But you just can’t stop yourself from staring, can you? 

MVT:  As Forrest Gump might say, “Zuma is as Zuma does.”  Let’s face it; if Zuma wasn’t as visually bizarre as he is, it would be tough justifying watching all two-plus hours of this film.  A giant green man, in a shiny red loincloth, with giant snakes on his shoulders?  Color me intrigued.

Make Or Break:  The Make is the scene where Zuma has his way with Galela.  It’s outlandish on its face, but it also manages to be sleazy and creepy, and it depicts the sort of menace Zuma could have been throughout the film but never fully is. 

Score:  6.25/10