Jerry Gets His Curtain Call…

Ugh. I was in bed the entire day thanks to not feeling so hot, but now that I’m up and find out Jerry Lewis has left the building, I’m wanting to go crawl back under the covers for a bit. Anyway, the first film that sprung to mind that I think you should catch was The Bellboy, written, directed and starring Jerry as Stanley, a silent bellhop hardly working at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach. It’s weird and funny as hell with a few fun cameos and a corker of an ending.


 

There’s way too much to say about the man from his comedic talents (and some fine dramatic work in film and on TV) to his charity work that a great deal of today’s younger folks probably have little to no idea about (those MDA telethons used to be wonderful family time gatherings back in the day).

I suppose I could say a few more words, but it’s late in the day and I’m gathering a few thousand other writers have popped their own opining up. Me, I haven’t yet read my email since yesterday evening. Anyway, go watch some of his work at some point if anything just to see how remakes often don’t do the originals much justice.

-GW

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Blu-Ray Review: Slugs

SlugsAV066Speaking of stuff that creeps around gardens you can accidentally squash, let’s talk about Slugs for a spell, shall we? The late Juan Piquer Simón’s hilariously awful, intensely gory horror flick is one you’ll love or hate intensely in part thanks to some pretty wretched acting that actually clashes with the rather awesome icky practical effects work by Carlo De Marchis.

Just like the director’s notoriously nasty Pieces, you’re getting a film that’s not going to let you out of its grip even though the absurdities pile up to the point where your brain starts spinning inside your skull. Then again, Pieces was (and is) totally nuts for a few more reasons I’ll leave the braver of you out there to discover at your leisure. But yes, let’s talk about Slugs for a spell, shall we?

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Blu-Ray Review: The Creeping Garden

TCG_AA004An absolutely fascinating look at plasmodial slime mold and a few of the people who love it, The Creeping Garden just might be my favorite documentary of 2017. Granted, it’s probably only the third of fourth one I’ve seen this year thanks to too much going medical drama going on and less time to watch stuff. But every second of this film is fascinating and well worth a watch.

Of course, if you hate stuff like strange plant life that can move around (slowly), nature flicks, amateur mycologists poking around dead trees (ewwww, bugs!) and artists making projects based on the care and feeding of slime mold, you might find the film a bit on the weird side. But it’s a compelling sort of weirdness when you discover a world you know nothing about and see through the eyes of others how this particular slice of life affects them. This is one of those Blu-Ray/DVD sets where you might find yourself passing off the DVD version to a friend just to share what’s here. Great films have a tendency to spread (kind of like slime mold, I guess?).

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Monster Hunter Stories Hands-On: Sweet Spot Central

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MHS_3DSWell, Monster Hunter Stories will very likely be a big ol’ very well deserved smash hit for Nintendo, Capcom and developer Marvelous! when it lands at retail and on the eShop September 8, but it really needs to be on a more powerful system that would allow it to be even better visually.

Yeah, I said it – the well-aged 3DS hardware just can’t handle all the game wants to show off and that’s too bad in this day and age.  So you get NPC’s popping in, occasional frame rate drops, some nice-looking (but would be nicer looking on an HD system or handheld) cinemas and a few other issues. That said, the game is fun as heck and absolutely the most accessible Monster Hunter game to date.
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Granted, I’m someone who has a huge love/hate thing going with this franchise for over a decade. The character and enemy designs are great, but up until this turn-based installment, the combat has always been what left me annoyed. The funny thing is, MHS grabbing at the brass ring cash cow Pokemon has been for decades makes for a game that’s hard to dislike unless you’re not a fan at all of “Gotta catch ’em all!” styled play.

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Blu-Ray Review: The Initiation

The Initiation_AV071Amusingly enough, The Initiation is okay enough to not need the old eyebrow-raising poster and new Blu-Ray art along with its initial promise of nubile college-age gals doing the schoolgirl witches coven experimentation thing. That’s a plot element teased more than an 80’s hairdo and tossed aside fast in favor of simpler sorority pledge antics. Boo.

Still, the film works fine as intended if you love your slasher flicks with twist reveals near the end (this one might remind you of Blood Rage), some nicely done gore FX and a solid performance by Daphne Zuniga (her first major film role after 1982’s The Dorm That Dripped Blood).

The film was shot by two different directors (Peter Crane, Larry Stewart) and is a case where the initial one did some incredible and atmospheric work but wasn’t fast enough to meet deadlines. He was replaced by a faster director who shot the bulk of the film in a TV-style format and some of the original footage was incorporated into the new stuff to give certain scenes that extra visual oomph. Hey, it all worked out in the end, so it’s all good.

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Blu-Ray Review: The Slayer

The Slayer_AV101Well, hell. The Slayer actually surprised me with how good it was and once again, Arrow Video drops the microphone with a stellar print of this eagerly awaited slasher with some nice bonus features. While the film has its share of flaws, it’s got a small and interesting cast that’s not made up of the usual sex-starved teens getting killed off by the slasher of the week. Okay, it’s more mature adults getting killed off, but hey, it’s a step up in any event.

The film also predates A Nightmare on Elm Street in having its fiend just so happen to do its dirty work as its wide-eyed female lead sleeps. While probably not at all an influence on Wes Craven’s masterpiece, it’s impossible to watch the film without making a connection somewhere along the line.

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Review: Kong: Skull Island

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Yo. That’s a BIG ape. Apocalypse, Wow.

One of these days, some film distributor such as Mill Creek or some other spot that gathers up movies and presents them as multi-disc packages will get hold of Kong: Skull Island and re-release it with the subtitle “No, Sam Jackson… You’re NOT Gonna Get That Big Ape!”. The film is indeed a piece of work in that you certainly get your money’s worth provided you go in with your brain turned off as expected with the usual blockbuster. On the other hand, following the plot too closely will have your eyeballs rolling around in your head like greasy marbles.

This new Kong is an attempt at Legendary Pictures and Warner Brothers unifying its Godzilla and King Kong franchises with a few films that will seemingly culminate in a big ol’ Kong vs Godzilla flick a few years from now. Yeah, well… good luck with that. This film isn’t perfect at all and while it’s a mess of ideas that work for the short attention span crowd, the overall impact is one where you wish Ray Harryhausen was still alive and animating just to keep the scale more manageable and fun.

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Review: Hakuōki: Kyoto Winds

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HAKU1_PackArtIf you or someone you love are suffering from FVN (Fear of Visual Novels), Idea Factory International has a great solution at an affordable price. Hakuōki: Kyoto Winds is a great introduction to otome games for Vita owners willing to try something different that’s well made and quite enjoyable.

Yes, longtime fans will recognize this as “only” an enhanced port of an older game they may have previously played. But they should also recognize the fact that every day someone might just want to try something out of their comfort zone they’ll probably like. Hey, an expanded fan base can be a good thing when all is said and done, right?

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Blu-Ray Review: Caltiki, The Immortal Monster

Caltiki_AV086I’ll say this straight up and get it over with. Ridley Scott could learn a lot from Mario Bava’s work (although some would say with a nudge and wink he’s been there and done that previously).  Sitting through Scott’s way too tired, formulaic and practically scare-free Alien Covenant was a chore for me, but going back to Bava’s more compelling Caltiki, The Immortal Monster made for an interesting counterpoint. Sometimes, more is indeed less and exactly what’s required when it comes to horror.

Low-rent though it may look, the “collaboration” of Bava and initial director Riccardo Freda makes for quite a compact and thrilling slice of sci-fi/horror that works as a sort of H.P. Lovecraft homage with a few intentional riffs on Hammer Film’s The Quatermass Xperiment tossed in for good measure. Initially the cinematographer, Bava stepped into the director’s chair after Freda left the production.  But it seems he did everything from design some impressive (for the era) visual effects to create some amazing backdrops using collage that included ceramic planters, magazine photos and matte paintings. It’s wacky as all get out, but it works surprisingly well and to some extent, even better today.

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Blu-Ray Review: Effects

Effects BRWhat you get out of AGFA’s great newly restored print of Effects very much depends on what you go in expecting. As a low budget 80’s horror flick “cobbled together with loose change” by a few friends of George A. Romero, the film does indeed retain a certain rawness throughout along with a tiny bit of graphic violence and a few shocking scenes here and there. The film also manages to be more than a bit prophetic about how today’s reality TV’s nonsense of cameras, cameras everywhere can actually be somewhat chilling and yep, desensitizing.

But let’s stick to what’s here first and foremost. There’s a horror flick being made in Pittsburgh and you’ve got a front row seat to the festivities. Again, don’t go into this one expecting bodies falling on cue and a predictable ending where you know what’s coming a mile and a few minutes away. SFX makeup whiz Tom Savini may be in this one, but he’s doing the acting and stunts thing this time out.

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