Mail Call, Yesterday Edition

Mail Call Sunday

So, I’m in the process of writing up a certain review when I take a minute to check one of my inboxes which kindly notes that a DVD I finally got around to ordering has arrived (and rather quickly, at that). On Sunday.  As it was about 2:24am Monday (“Sleep?” What’s this “sleep” you speak of, mortals?), my eyebrow went up and yes, I got my keys, put some pants on (TMI: I tend to dress like a video game mascot character from the 90’s when at home) and hoofed it downstairs to check my mail with the first thought being the mailbox would be empty and somehow USPS and/or Amazon mucked up the delivery date. Wrong, and well, wow for the post office for delivering regular mail on a day when it usually doesn’t.

Um, go write a letter or postcard or something today and mail it, I guess. USPS kinda needs people to be less reliant on tech and more reliant on good old fashioned handwritten surprises via the post. Either than or they go under and we end up going broke because it’ll cost a mint to ship via other services angling to take their place and doing a worse job in the process. Anyway, back to the backlog, ladies and germs!

-GW

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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

Happy Almost New Year (Burying The Hatchet With Haste Edition)


 

This year has been significantly… bumpy (to put it mildly). Here’s hoping 2017 gets off to a better start, although it’s going to be rough seas ahead in some important areas. I’m expecting mistakes to be made with either no or poor to unacceptable excuses made for each error that erases something that was just fine before the hammer fell on its foot hard. And that’s just here on the getting stuff done front, ha and ha-ha.

Or, to get real, let’s use Psycho II (a far better film than some give it little to no credit for) as a perfect analogy of just how crappy this year has been on some key fronts. That murderous old lady is 2016 and NormanBates is 2017. It’s your move, Norm:

(Thanks, IntgrScienceFilms3!)
 

Okay, let me shut up and go try to be a bit more productive. If I don’t post anything else today, Have a Happy New Year celebration, be safe and better yet, be prepared for the coming storm or at least, be ye not wholly surprised when wolfy promising yields rather sheepish results.

-GW

Arrow Video July Releases: Hot Summer Nights, Indeed

While there are only a mere three releases in July from Arrow Video through MVD Entertainment, they’re all worth nabbing thanks to being a nice set of eclectic films to watch. Amusingly enough, all are about women in trouble and/or various states of undress for plot purposes (of course). A classic sex comedy, a weird, unintentionally funny sex drama, and a killer Japanese film set that’s one of the ultimate revenge flick compilations of the era all await your eager eyeballs and shelf space.

The Swinging Cheerleaders AV058First up: on July 5th, say hello to The Swinging Cheerleaders (MSRP $34.95, Blu-ray + DVD, MVD Shop or Amazon pre-order)

They gave it all for their team…

 

Jack Hill spent the seventies specializing in tough female characters. He made movies about girl gangs (Switchblade Sisters) and women in prison (The Big Doll House, The Big Bird Cage), turned Pam Grier a star with Coffy and Foxy Brown, and contributed to the Cheerleaders line of drive-in favorites with The Swinging Cheerleaders.

 

Kate, an undergraduate at Mesa University, goes undercover as a cheerleader for her college newspaper in order to expose ‘female exploitation in contemporary society’. But instead of oppression she finds love, friendship and a bigger fish to fry: corruption in the football team, headed up by the coach and his pals.

 

A favorite of Quentin Tarantino, who screened it at the very first Tarantino Film Fest, The Swinging Cheerleaders features a cast of cult favorites including Colleen Camp (Wayne’s World, Game of Death), Rainbeaux Smith (Caged Heat, The Incredible Melting Man) and future Playmate of the Month Rosanne Katon.

 

BONUS MATERIALS
– Brand new 2K restoration from original film materials
– High Definition (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD Presentations
– Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
– Audio commentary by writer-director Jack Hill, recorded exclusively for this release
– Brand new interview with Jack Hill
– Archive interview with cinematographer Alfred Taylor
– Archive interview with Hill and Johnny Legend
– Q&A with Hill, and actors Colleen Camp and Rosanne Katon recorded at the New Beverly Cinema in 2012
– TV spots
– Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
– Illustrated booklet containing new writing by Cullen Gallagher (first pressing only)

 

But wait, there’s more!
Continue reading

A Few Words on Ralph Baer…

Ralph Baer Brown Box 

I was already in a lousy mood yesterday, but waking up to the news that Ralph Baer died pretty much kept me inside for the bulk of the day ruminating. I was eight years old when the Magnavox Odyssey launched, but my family didn’t buy one because we had assorted hobbies that kept us occupied. In fact, although I’d been to the arcade down at Coney Island back when I was six or seven, I was more impressed with the pinball machines I played (or tried to play). However, finding out a cousin had an Odyssey in his closet AND a color TV in his living room got me curious enough to see what was in that big box (a lot of stuff!) and what happened when it was all wired up to that big TV set… Continue reading

Back on Track (Sort of)…

Status

Okay, I’m back from my self-imposed exile. Actually, I was working on a second and third Sunday post, but I got caught up in the gap between slow home internet and discovering something unusual in a game I was playing that I had to see through to the end to make sure it was a legitimate thing and not some oddball glitch that went nowhere. Anyway, off to catch up to my brain, which is already somewhere in Thursday plotting and planning away.

(thanks, Tolis1989!) 

I hate it when it does that, as that means it’s going to get me trouble before I know it. But I think I can keep up with it this time if I toss a few distractions its way (some bad movies usually do the trick)…

Random Film of the Week: Across 110th Street

Across 110th St_MPNo, it’s NOT “Blaxploitation Week” here at DAF because believe it or else, Across 110th Street isn’t really an exploitation film at all. Sure it’s got sudden (but VERY expected) bursts of violence, plenty of (way too brightly colored) blood spilled, swearing out the wazoo, hard drug usage, funky fashions and Afros all wrapped in very palpable sense of dread that lurks around from the moment the film gets underway until its inevitable conclusion. Oh, and that urban gangster theme, stereotypical I-tal-i-an mobsters getting needlessly brutal, an equally racist white cop (Anthony Quinn) and the fresh to the precinct black detective (Yaphet Kotto) who has to work with him on his first major case may all make you THINK you know what you’re getting into.

But then a funny thing happens after the title credits roll… the film surprises you with a surprisingly well shot and tense crime action/thriller with a deliberately relentless tone that escalates as things spiral out of control. Stealing drug money from the mob is a bad idea in any dramatic film, but this film lets you watch the doomed men pull off their dirty deed successfully while letting you see all too clearly that they’re not going far with their ill-gotten gains… Continue reading

Random Film of the Week: HIT MAN

hit_man_MPWhile watching 1972’s HIT MAN on TCM last week and in between bouts of nearly falling off the couch laughing a few times at the unintentional comedy gold, it hit me that I’d see this film’s story elsewhere. Granted, you get what you pay for with most “blaxploitation” flicks in the form of a reworking of older (and often, superior) films, but there was something here under all the massive afros, copious nudity and violence that seemed pretty familiar.

That something happened to be Get Carter, the classic 1971 British gangster film from director Mike Hodges that was an early showcase for Michael Caine as well as a pretty darn great and mature killer of a movie. A year later, director George Armitage pretty much piled on the T&A, beefing up the sexy time and violence to racier American levels of shameless acceptability and the cast here does a pretty awesome job at making this one of those absolutely memorable (but yes, gloriously bad on so many levels) “B” flicks that’s going to have your head shaking and spinning simultaneously… Continue reading

Random Film of the Week: The Poseidon Adventure

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

poseidon adventure 1972_MPTo many movie fans, Die Hard is one of the more unconventional holiday movies they gravitate to around that special time of year, spreading its most popular lines out as if they’re carols or random secret Santa gifts. Although it is a more “modern” classic, I prefer the New Year’s wake up splash that is 1972’s The Poseidon Adventure, still one of the best genre movies ever made in my opinion.

While it certainly wasn’t the first star-studded “disaster” movie made by Hollywood, it’s probably the one film fans are most likely to name off the top of their heads if asked. Forget the two lousy remakes from 2005 and 2009 and that completely wretched 1979 sequel, folks. The one works best as a one-off with an all-star cast (most of which buy the farm before the film is over) and an ending that basically says “we don’t need no stinkin’ sequels!” simply because you can’t top all the craziness you’ve just sat through… Continue reading

It’s PONG’s Birthday Today! What Did You Get It?

(thanks, pongmuseum!) 
What do you mean you FORGOT? Well, good thing for you it’s Black Friday, huh? Yeah, you just got back in from 12 hours of spending too much money you don’t have, but I say you need to get your leftover turkey eating behind BACK outside and work off some more calories before you’re tempted by the fridge to open it up and dive into that cold stuffing (again!). What should you buy PONG? Oh, use your imagination, people. Just don’t go writing any songs, now. That’s already been done and done so well that it’s the final word on this irrefutable classic. Eh, you’ll figure something out – just stay away from linens and towels as a gift choice, as they tend to be marked up during this time of year just to lure you into thinking you’re getting a good deal with that $2 coffeemaker and $50 TV you bought earlier…