(Not-So) Random Film of the Week: Barry Lyndon

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Where it all begins for one Redmond Barry.

Barry Lyndon is a story which does not depend upon surprise. What is important is not what is going to happen, but how it will happen.

Stanley Kubrick

barry_lyndon_ver1_xlgMy first introduction to Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon was via the most likely means most 11-year olds with little to no interest in certain three-hour plus films made by somewhat visionary directors had at the time: MAD Magazine. I do recall that particular issue was confiscated from the classmate who owned it later in the day by a somewhat strict English (Literature) teacher who didn’t appreciate his not paying attention during her class. Fortunately, the magazine was returned the following day with a note that student had to take to his parents about his reading habits during class and oddly (or not so oddly) enough, a public library copy of The Luck of Barry Lyndon for him to read, write a book report on and return to the teacher. It turned out the teacher was a big fan of Kubrick’s film but had never read the MAD version, so she took it home, read it and liked the parody. Thus the somewhat unusual  temporary gift and form of “punishment”.

You gotta love good teachers, friends. Go and hug one today (er, with consent, of course).

I’ve had the feeling for some time that I may have wished for such a tremendous fate back then, as it took quite a few years more for me to actually read the book Kubrick adapted and altered somewhat using groundbreaking lighting techniques and some of the most gorgeous and true to life costume recreations ever put on film. It’s also a film where you can practically hear its director chuckling as he reworked the book into his own style that in my opinion, fits in well with Thackeray’s original writing. Droll, deadpan humor is laced throughout the dramatic scenes, all of which are masterfully composed shots that may have you pausing the film to admire a landscape or painterly composition (of which there are many). Excellent performances from the cast all around also help, as does realizing that Redmond Barry (Ryan O’Neal) isn’t supposed to “act” here in the sense of a person throwing himself into a part and chewing up the scenery. He’s perfectly cast as a man in a particular point in history where both good to terrible things happen and he reacts as he sees fit (which isn’t always accordingly).

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On Storytelling: 30 Seconds or Bust

So, yep, I’ve been a bit unwell these past few days, but things are looking up. Or rather, I’m looking up at the ceiling earlier this morning and remembering “Oh yeah, I have a lot of writing to do!” as assorted creaks and groans emanate from under the covers. If one’s body is supposed to be a temple, mine is the heart-wrenching (ow) Temple of Doom, minus the fun but deadly mine cart stage. Oh, it used to be there and a hell of a ride it was (a regular E Ticket experience, whee!). But you know how things fall apart over time? Well, that part dropped into the lava about ten days ago and along with all the King’s horses and most of his men. It’s so NOT good to be the King when this sort of thing happens, but we push on. When the going get tough, the tough… kinda go back to bed for a wee bit.

Anyway, as a quick writing exercise as well as a tick towards some much needed humor, I’ve decided to practice on an unwilling audience this form of torture that I hope you appreciate (whipcrack!). Well, it’s not as bad as it sounds (hopefully).

(Thanks, James Bond 007!)

Now, pay attention.

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I Think Tuco’s A Bit Upset…

(Thanks, Luciano Napoli!)

No, Tuco… you’ve not been forgotten, pal. We’ll get to you soon enough. Hey, folks – Video Store Action Heroes is a thing and it’s LIVE (woo and hoo). Check out the three cooler entries and mine, which is just OK:

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Just press PLAY (and don’t forget to rewind when you’re done, pal.

Mike’s Take on the Movies does up 1983’s Uncommon Valor (in which we also discover Mike either works out regularly, has some great Photoshop skills, or both).

Todd goes all Cinema Monolith on 1980’s ffolkes (aka North Sea Hijack or Assault Force) in a Moore or less fine as usual review.

Wolfman’s Cult Movie Club takes on one of my favorites, 1987’s The Hidden and I’ll say now that it’s a good thing he saw this great hidden gem first and not the screamingly awful sequel.

What’s up for future installments? Well… you’ll just need to tune in and find out now, won’t you?

-GW

COMING SOON: Getting Some More Action In

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Psst. Hey. Yeah, you. Keep this a secret, would ya? Um, August 18th is when you may want to pop in and see what’s what. Shhhhhh. Just you, though.

Okay,  you may tell a friend or three.  I’ll go make some popcorn.

-GW

Blu-Ray Review: The House of Seven Corpses

the_house_of_seven_corpses_mp“Trust me… dying’s easy! Living is hard”

And so is watching some movies, pal.

Upon finding yourself on the set of a horror film or hell, ANY film where someone starts reading from a musty old book written in an indecipherable language, Rule Number One is this: LEAVE. You want examples? Sure. Equinox, The Evil Dead, In The Mouth of Madness, The Beyond, Necronomicon: Book of the Dead, The Ninth Gate, and so forth and so on.  ALL of these flicks were initially rom-coms until someone on set decided to crack open a nasty, smelly old book they found, bought, pilfered or borrowed and all hell lit-er-al-ly broke loose.

Okay, not really. But you know you’re in for a deadly day for night shoot when there’s an old tome read and not much common sense exhibited by the cast once stuff starts going south. Sadly, 1974’s The House of Seven Corpses isn’t as good or fun enough a flick to watch as the above mentioned ones, wasting its tome (ha!) with too much “exposition” from annoying characters, John Carradine phoning in a performance from a better, scarier but campier film, and some slightly to moderately creepy undead that whittle down the cast and crew of a romantic comedy cheapie horror flick one by one.

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It’s probably not a big co-inkydink that the film was produced by a company called Television Corporation of America, as save for a few moments, this looks and feels like a TV movie of the era. No, that’s not a complement.

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On Der Backlog: More Movies Than You Can Stick A Shake At

mo_movies_mo_reviewsGah. More stuff to review, but not review in a few cases where that homework was already done. I did a few of these already based off of TCM showing them during the wee hours, so I’ll only need to do five of eight. Five of these are from Severin Films’ big sale last month after their publishing rights expired for Horror Express, The Baby, Bloody Birthday, The House of Seven Corpses, and Psychomania. I actually thought I’d reviewed HotSC already, but can’t locate the review, so I guess it’s one I dreamed I wrote or something. No big deal, as I’ve seen this enough to tap out impressions in my sleep.

Vamp is yet another Arrow Video screener I need to get to, Just Desserts I’ve seen already and need to write up (it’s brilliant), and MVD Visual sent over this lovely Unearthed Francesca set that includes a Blu-Ray/DVD and soundtrack from this recent retro giallo that, based on the trailer I just watched, REALLY looks as it was made in the 70’s.  Anyway back in a bit with a review of something NOT here I think you’ll like.

-GW

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January’s Retro Pop Box Packs in the 70’s Memories

RPB_Jan_2016 

Right before that dopey snowstorm landed, I’d gotten a few (okay, a lot of) packages delivered but just now got to opening them up (hey, I was busy moving furniture around for last week’s plastering and painting and was in quite a haze of weariness). So seeing January’s Retro Pop Box peeking out at me from a small stack of packages made me grin somewhat like Mr. Sardonicus after an encounter with a tickle fetish dominatrix. Um, never mind that reference! Anyway, someone at the post office felt it okay to doodle on the box (boo), as my regular carrier was on vacation (Joe always brings my mail right up to the door and doesn’t cram it into the mailbox) and the new guy is a bit goofy because he sometimes puts the wrong mail in a few boxes.

RPB_Jan_2016 b 

Inside the box were a nice sticker tribute to David Bowie (who passed away the previous week, so the creator elves were fast on the draw here) and a nice set of 70’s themed items:

RPB Jan 2016 c 

Heh. A nice and exclusive RPB T-shirt that references a key scene from 1978’s Animal House will be worn here in a pants optional mode. Hey, when you get older, you tend to like LESS clothing (and not just on the ladies or whatever). DOn’t ask me to explain this – you’ll hopefully live long enough to experience it yourself. I call it *Freedom!* Whee.

RPB Jan 2016 d 

The other stuff was a nice hodgepodge of items. That Space Invaders bag will get shouldered for shopping trips (and has already gotten the thumbs up seal of approval at a local game shop), I do need a tiny shark toy and maybe a tinier toy Jet Ski to go into the tiny Happy Days lunchbox (sorry, Fonzie – that’s the first tribute I thought of, aaaaayyyyyyy!), that Doctor Who journal will require a tiny pencil or pen if it’s to last the 500 years noted on that cover, and I’m wearing that Thing button as I type this just because it’s always Clobberin’ Time somewhere in the world and I need to represent.

Anyway, if your own nostalgia meter is spinning, you know what to do, right?

A Double Shot of Retro Pop Box For Your Wednesday

RPB November Stuff (5)

Due to my dopey old laptop giving up the ghost around the time last month’s Retro Pop Box arrived and me running about doing the headless chicken thing for a bit, I’m just getting around to posting the goodies in that box now. Amusingly enough, this month’s box popped up in the mail as I was getting ready to write this post, so you get two (*smooch!*), TWO mints in one! Or something like that. Anyway, November’s RPG looked like this once opened:

RPB November Stuff (6)

And inside were the following 70’s themed items:

 

The RPB exclusive T-shirt made me grin and yes, it’s gotten some comments thanks to that funky retro design. That Silly String (which I’m saving for the proper occasion) came with a card detailing the product’s creation and rather cool usefulness as a means for soldiers to locate booby trap tripwires in war zones (and making me wonder how much the military is paying per can or if the stuff has to be shipped out by families who want their loved ones coming home safe). That Evel Knievel First Aid Kit made me laugh out loud because while it’s not vintage, I immediately imagined the stunt king of the 70’s packing one of these in every pocket of his star-spangled jumpsuit with a spare inside his helmet each time he made one of those death-defying jumps on ABC back in the day.

I hadn’t seen a Mood Ring in some years, so having one handy is quite nice (Current mood: Happy!). I’ll need to wear that CULT LEADER button with the Retro Pop Box logo one day when I’m out and about just so when someone asks about one, I can tie in the other without worrying about them getting the wrong idea. Yes, I’d say my cult is RPB and they NEED TO JOIN. NOW. (without an “or else!” on the end of that demand. We’re a nice bunch of nostalgia-heads. As for that Brady Bunch lanyard, my brain is flicking through its Rolodex to see if I recall anyone named Marcia because this would be a groovy gift for her. Hey, better a colorful lanyard than a football to the nose, right? Yeah, I thought so.

As for December’s RPB, read on for more on that one… Continue reading

Retro Pop Box Turns Your Mailbox Into A Time Machine

Retro Pop Box (1)If you’re a child of the 1960’s, 70’s or 80’s, or know someone of a certain age craving some random nostalgia, Retro Pop Box is going to be right up your/their alley. The just-launched subscription-only service delivers the goods in the form of monthly boxes of themed swag, all of it fun and guaranteed to get the memory banks kicking in as you’re transported back to your childhood.

A sampler box containing a few items from all three eras popped up in my mailbox a few days back (thanks, Chris!) and it made a rather bland Wednesday end on a rainbow-colored rocket with a paisley disco ball painted on it. Or something close to that.

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The Internet Arcade: Your Monday (and Every Other Day) Just Got A LOT Less Productive…

Internet Arcade (Partial) 

Holy Cats. And here I thought archive.org was a disorganized mess of free movies and music files of assorted quality plus the home the not so perfect Wayback Machine where one can dig up archives for old websites no longer online. Well, the Archive’s Jason Scott has compiled over 1000 classic arcade games running on the MAME/MESS/JMESS emulators (which were cooked up by many other creative folks) and you can lose a week playing as many as you can for FREE.

The catch? Well, you’ll need the latest version of your current browser, meaning you’ll be online when you’re supposed to be working hard on those spreadsheets or whatever. However, be warned that Firefox works the best over anything else, meaning you Chrome and Safari users may have issues with running this perfectly. So, yeah… so much for getting to do important stuff like walking the dog, raising a family or stocking your zombie-proof shelter. Also, a controller is recommended, as keyboard controls are going to be funky on many titles. That’s being tweaked as we speak. Finally, the sounds and music will be a bit garbled on some games. Crank down the volume if you’re using headphones so your eardrums don’t crack when some high-pitched MIDI tune blasts them.

I’ve scanned that list of games and my eyeball popped out of my head a few times. If I had a controller with me here at the away office, I’d be playing some BLASTER, Q*Bert, Crystal Castles, Crazy Climber, The Three Stooges and way too many others to list here. This is a work in progress, so it’ll be fiddled with and fixed as time passes. I’m NOT going to go back to that page today at ALL or else I’ll get nothing done at all. YOU can boogie on over there yourself just to ogle all the awesome marquee art. Consider this your museum trip for this week. Yes, another excuse to call gaming educational is always a great reason…