Romero & Landau: Two For The Road

We have to stop meeting this way, but so it goes:

night_of_the_living_deadGeorge A. Romero created one of the most influential, essential horror movies back in 1968 with Night Of The Living Dead, a film that still packs a punch on a few fronts. As his feature film debut, Romero’s flesh-eating ghouls would inspire a legion of filmmakers to copy and attempt to improve upon his film’s strengths. Some did, most didn’t. He stayed primarily and comfortably within the horror genre, making six follow-ups to the original along with some solid films such as Martin, Knightriders, and Creepshow.

I can still recall the first time I saw Night on broadcast TV late at night (I think it was ABC that ran it first), the network placed an on-screen overlay during the “news” segments that ran during the film so people wouldn’t think actual dead folks weren’t rising up to chomp on flesh. I forget how young I was, but even in its edited for, the movie had me half under a blanket and that surprise ending gave me nightmares for a few days afterward. A few years later when TV spots for Dawn Of The Dead popped up, I was actually so scared I decided not to try and attempt to buy a ticket. I saved that underage trial by fire for ALIEN, released a year later.

Side note: George lived up here in the Bronx – I believe in the same area I’m in now. Not that it matters much, but finding that out always made me think of another neighborhood guy who did well for himself.

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Blu-Ray Review: Werewolf Woman

WerewolfWoman_BRWith most exploitation films, it’s best to jump in cold and hang on for dear life because over-scrutinizing every frame can mean missing out on what a film really has to offer. Flaws and logic gaps are commonplace as many genre films tend to be rushed (or pay homage to earlier rushed flicks) and rely on copious nudity, sexual content, and/or graphic violence to make their points. Of course, that’s probably one reason why they’re so appreciated by those of us with time to spend watching as many as we can fit into out libraries. You know who you are, so wave that flag proudly, pal.

On the other hand, a film like Rino Di Silvestro’s 1976 Werewolf Woman (aka The Legend of the Wolf Woman, among other titles) demands to be scrutinized (warts and all) because under that copious nudity, et cetera is a film whose director fully believed in the subject matter (Clinical Lycanthropy) and yep, decided to tackle it head on as a full on exploitation flick. While it’s a film that’s got quite a nasty, depressing bite to it when all it said and done, you can kind of see through all the sleaze that the director was trying to slap some sort of psychological depth into the proceedings.

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Review: Independence Day: Resurgence

independence_day_resurgence_xlgWe really didn’t need a sequel to Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day, but one got made anyway. The first film was a big, loud and (at the time) expensive chunk of mindless summer fun that grossed over $800 million at the box office and paved the way for even more mindless blockbusters that featured cardboard characters, paper-thin plots, and more (and questionably “better”) computer generated effects. I liked it enough to see it four times (hey, those visual effects were pretty stunning back then) and later bought it on VHS, lenticular insert card and all.

The 20 years too late sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence ups the ante considerably by making everything bigger, dumber, faster and louder to the point that it’s a mind-numbing, confusing mess from start to finish. Hey, if you like your popcorn movies quite popcorn-y and don’t mind two solid hours of a simplistic yet convoluted plot, by the numbers acting and countless millions (or billions, it’s hard to tell) killed before the end credits, I’m not here to poop on your parade at all.

On the other hand, I want some actual science back in my science fiction. And physics. And something resembling a comprehensible plot that doesn’t insult what little intelligence I have left. None of those are here and the film’s way too cheery ending promising an even bigger and more bombastic third entry ends up dooming this “franchise” to maybe network TV movie or limited series status at best (that is, if someone at Fox has the brains to even think of going that safer route).

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Loving The Alien: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

 

The best film directors are master manipulators who can magically transform an entire theater audience into a group of happy to sappy sapient lemmings or wide-eyed marionettes easily controlled from start to end credits. Their best films have the masses cheering the heroes, hissing at the bad ones, empathizing with the downtrodden and generally feeling whatever emotion a scene calls for. Yes, there are exceptions to this non-rule (too-likeable villains, swapping out all attempts at sympathy for more explosions and eyeball rolling plot twists you can see coming 20 minutes before they occur). But when you get right down to it, you know your cinematic needs are being taken care of when certain directors are at the helm.

Or, as an old friend once said:

(thanks, svofski!) 

In other words, this is a Spielberg film, folks.
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Random Film of the Week: Corruption


 

As mad scientist flicks go, Corruption is something of a forgotten classic in its own crazy manner. You get the great Peter Cushing out of his usual period piece horrors playing a successful plastic surgeon in a more modern 60’s setting, some surprisingly shocking (by mid 60’s standards) content and a laser gone haywire in a finale that may elicit some chuckles from forward thinking Star Wars fans. If you’ve ever wanted to see Cushing go full-tilt, over the top into scenery chomping territory, this one won’t disappoint one bit. While there are some slow expository moments here, the overall film is an interesting slice of horror that while not wholly original, ends up being pretty memorable on a few fronts.

(Thanks, groovemaster!)
 

After the swingin’ credit sequence, we meet Cushing’s Sir John Rowan and his pretty younger fiancée Lynn (Sue Lloyd) at a pretty raucous party. While the good doctor struggles with the mingling, Lynn, who just so happens to be a model, is in the middle of an impromptu photo shoot when Rowan rushes up to stop the snapping away before his squeeze loses all her clothes. Before you can say “Watch out for that hot studio lamp!”, Rowan accidentally knocks said lamp over and it lands on poor Lynn, burning half her face. Ouch! Fortunately, she’s engaged to a very capable plastic surgeon, right? Unfortunately, conventional surgery won’t work this time, so Rowan decides to use Lynn as a guinea pig to try out a little something he’s been working on in secret.

If you’ve seen Georges Franju’s Les yeux sans visage (Eyes Without A Face), you can probably guess things up to a point, For everyone who hasn’t, Répétez après moi, s’il vous plaît:

“What could POSSIBLY go wrong?”(dot dot dot) Continue reading

Spider-Man: Homecoming Trailer: Re-suit Reboot Looks To Grab Loot

 


 

So, how are you doing, dear readers? Good? Good. Me? Meh, I’m doing okay. Anyway, I missed the first trailer to Spider-Man: Homecoming a few months back, so it’s above and the newer trailer that dropped yesterday is below. The big legal issues keeping Spidey out of Marvel’s bigger cinematic universe seem to be ironed out (at least for the foreseeable future), so say hello a second time to Tom Holland, whose portrayal of the character in Captain America: Civil War helped give that film some much-needed levity. Speaking of levity, how’s the kind of in-joke of Michael Keaton going from playing Birdman to another bird-man get you? I don’t think Oscar will come calling again for a superhero flick (despite what Logan has done in terms of critical response and yeah, yeah, Suicide Squad winning its hair/makeup award), but it’s also just fine by me that this reboot isn’t looking as cheesy as the last few attempts at making him a big deal were.


 

That said, my rules of engagement still apply: Unless I get invited to a premiere here in NYC, I’m holding out for the Blu-Ray version for those bonus features and any extended footage chopped out of the theatrical cut. I don’t think Marvel is quite as nefarious as DC in terms of this stuff, but I’m admittedly a few films behind in both cinematic universes.

-GW

Justice League Trailer: See? Gee! Aye.


 


 

Hmmm. On one hand, the Justice League trailer does what it needs to do and does it well enough that DC fans will appreciate everything it has to offer, so that’s good. On the other hand, the CG-packed visuals (is there a single shot that’s not enhanced in some way?) complete with Zack Snyder’s trademark dark, gritty visuals make it look like another loud post-summer blockbuster non-fans might want to avoid in favor of some quiet time with a good book. As usual, I’m ambivalent here. I’ll see this when I have the time as I’m not so wholly invested in these soopa-hee-ro flicks to trample over some old ladies on the way to the nearest megaplex. Unless, of course I get an invite to some big deal star-studded premiere here in NYC, whereupon I’ll turn into Richard Widmark as Tommy Udo from Kiss of Death (sorry in advance, old ladies! But, bonus points if you have a few baskets of puppies and freshly baked cookies in your laps):

(Thanks, Doug Jay!)
 

Or perhaps not. Hey, that Widmark sure would have made a fantastic Joker had anyone back then wanted to make a real Batman film and not some budget-minded serial, huh? Amirite? Anyway, an invite to a screening isn’t a mandate and I don’t feel like buying or renting a tuxedo penguin outfit for the occasion. I do have a suit here, but it’s probably not going to fit my winter fat self even a few months down the road as the film opens November 17 and I’ll be back to stuffing myself silly again. Eh, whatever. Suicide Squad won a friggin’ Oscar, so who knows what will happen with this film.

-GW

(NOTE: no old ladies were harmed in the making of this post, the baskets of puppies were all adopted to good homes and yes, I’m eating the freshly-baked cookies as I type this, yum!)

Alien: Covenant Does The #TBT Thing A Day Early


 

Well, well. Referencing that infamous dinner scene from the original ALIEN, this “Last Supper” prologue also manages to give an idea of how close to the vest Alien Covenant is going to be playing a few of its cards. Granted, I wasn’t expecting anything revolutionary with the upcoming film, so this clip does indeed hit the right notes. I liked what I saw, although that larger crew means a lot more victims which will hopefully not translate to the film feeling repetitive. Eh, I’m not really worried much, though.

aliencovenant-header 

Oh, by the way, when you go to that site link above and register, make sure you mess with the MU/TH/UR 6000 computer interface for a bit of fun. Ask it some questions that are ALIEN-related, if you need a hint.

-GW

Random Films: Stuff To Watch Happen When You’re Not Watching Stuff Happen (Part 1)

(Thanks, Lord Juri’s Channel!)
 

So, yeah. We’re in uncharted yet somehow all too predictable waters at the moment. I’m seeing those history and philosopy books I read or scanned and documentaries I watched as a kid up coming to life in rapid succession and nope, that’s not a good seaworthy feeling in the guts that’s happening. Diversions, diversions are required in this case, but I prefer focused ones that fit the climate over ones that beg me to continually forget it. Anyway, a few recommends to see for you if you’re so inclined, have an open mind and don’t want to be left behind.

No commentary needed on these, but trailers are added to get your eyes and brain to get your fingers clicking on getting these added to that ‘must-see’ queue. Four for today should be enough – there are a load more I’ll get to over time. Distractions about disruption over participation in destruction, I say.

theboywithgreenhair 

(Thanks, Screenbound Pictures!)
 

a face in the crowd poster 

(Thanks, Warner Bros!)
 

z 

(thanks, Poetic Realism!)
 

things_to_come_xlg 

(Thanks, Movie Trailer Graveyard!)
 

Back in a bit…

– GW

Worst Assassins Ever (The Non-Blogathon!) #1: The French Connection

the_french_connection

A good cop? Oh, the irony of that caption. Or, a picture is worth a thousand words (or less)…

IF yours truly was ever going to host a blogathon, it would either be something like the ‘That’s NOT My City!’ or ‘Worst Assassins EVER!’ blogathon because both are topics that make me chuckle in films more than they’re supposed to. As a native New Yorker who’s heard from a bunch of friends over the decades about how certain films shot here (or places pretending to be here) range from inspiring (great!) to “It’s so unsafe there! Do you actually go out at night?” (lousy!), I can think of far too many made in (or outside) in NYC films to scribble about. As for terrible assassins in films, with assistance I could probably write a book on how the best of the best go from first in their class to dirt-napping klutzes thanks to inconvenient plot monkey wrenches needing them to forget how good they are in favor of making a series of increasingly terrible decisions that put them into the hall of shamefully comedic demises.

However, between being a bit more scattered than usual (“I want the hangings public” is my mantra of late) and not motivated enough to create all those GIFs, promo posters and banner art to pass out to potential contributors, I’ve decided to flip a coin for the name and non-host a stealth blogathon anyone can contribute to. Or not. Actually, this particular film popped into my head first because it fits both categories perfectly AND happens to be a great essential flick that’s still well worth a look. For those about to complain… don’t. I love this film to death, but repeated viewings over a few decades show it’s got a hidden comic gold vein running through it in the form of one the the most inept professional killers you’ll ever see. Continue reading