(Not So) Random Film(s) of The Week: The Thing (1982)

The Thing JB_RJ

With his trusty bottle of J&B to keep warm, R.J. MacReady (Kurt Russell) and Vance Norris (Charles Hallahan) try quite unsuccessfully to make snow angels.

THE THING sfSo, what did YOU do during last week’s too damn hot weather? Me, I dragged my slightly sickly self out in that nasty, unbearable heat to go sit in a nice, well-chilled home with seven other people with the express purpose of making some of them scream. No, I didn’t do my *legendary* crowd-pleasing Chippendale’s act, people (wait, I have a Chippendale’s act?). I simply put a very old plan into action I’d successfully executed a few times in the distant past in introducing a fine horror film to some friends who had either never seen it previously, have only seen a heavily edited for TV version or yes, just disliked scary movies.

Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed that I’ve actually previously reviewed an older DVD version of the 1982 John Carpenter film and I’ve also deconstructed the 2011 prequel which I found okay, but lacking in some respects (I think the studio meddled a bit too much with the film, turning it into less than what director Matthijs van Heijningen intended to be a more solid horror experience). Now, I didn’t just show up unannounced, tie seven people to assorted furniture and force them to watch the movie, so there. Nope, as a matter of fact, I was actually asked to host a little screening party by a friend who borrows movies from me on a semi-regular basis.

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The Winter in July Blogathon is Snow Joke

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THINGs to come… (stay tuned)

Hmmm. Guess which film I picked? Go on, guess?

-GW

Blu-Ray Review: BASKET CASE

Basket Case_LE_AV119“What’s in the basket? Easter eggs?”

Absolutely, lady, absolutely. Wow. Sometimes you get hit in the head by a fly ball you didn’t see coming and it’s actually a good thing. I didn’t know Frank Henenlotter’s still hilarious and unnerving 1982 feature BASKET CASE had gotten a superb MoMA restoration last year until I overheard two guys talking about it and I just had to walk up and ask if it was true. It indeed was and now thanks to Arrow Video, you can get yourself a copy of this cult horror hit and see what the fuss is all about. Or just see it again as a fully restored masterpiece of low-budget movie making madness.

If memory serves me correctly, I actually saw the film for the first time way back during its initial 1982 run at the Waverly theater, but I think it was the disappointing edited version that came off as a bit crueler and cruder. I say “think” because it was a midnight showing and I recall falling asleep at one point and missed about 10 or so minutes. Oops. A few years later, upon renting the unrated version on VHS (I think it was from one of the legendary Kim’s Video locations in NYC), I was shocked to see footage I hadn’t recalled and the film was actually much funnier than I’d remembered.

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Blu-Ray/DVD Review: The Aftermath

The Aftermath VCIThere’s a great bonus on the BR/DVD version of The Aftermath that’s well worth watching before you see the main event. That would be the 1973 student film, The Night Caller, directed by Dan Gilbert and inspired by Ray Bradbury’s short story, Night Call, Collect. The same guy who co-wrote and stars in that main event, Steve Burkett, also plays the lead in this short and it seems the plot is something of an expansion of a few ideas from the short as well as some of Burkett and co-writer Stanley Livingston’s own work.

That said, this shot in 1978/released in 1982 film was also something of a passion project for Burkett, as it was made for not a whole lot of money (and it shows), features a few of Burkett’s friends and family members along with the always fun to watch Sid Haig as the film’s main, mean villain. On one hand, it’s not the greatest action film you’ll ever see. However, it’s a case of a killer “B” flick with an oddly effective sting that happens to wear its battered heart on its bloody sleeve.

Burkett plays Newman, an astronaut returning to Earth after a lengthy journey with two others, Mathews (Larry Latham) and Williams (Jim Danforth!). They can’t contact anyone on the planet and after an explosion, the ship crash lands in the water somewhere near Los Angeles. Williams is killed and initially, Newman thinks he’s the sole survivor until Mathews washes up shortly thereafter. The men spend a harsh night outdoors where they’re attacked by crazed and somewhat violent (zombie-like?) mutated savages and it’s only when the dawn breaks they find out there’s been a big ol’ nuclear war while the men were away that’s wiped out a good chunk of humanity.  So much for that homecoming parade, right?

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A Few THINGs To Remember…

Hmmm. Apparently, Donnie Boo-Boo (aka The Original Orange Julius Caesar, among other not so nice things) didn’t get the memo, but yeah, he’s quite the royal dope when it comes to being “presidential.” Or “professional”, for that matter. Anyway, here’s one thing that can happen when you interact with some Norwegians under the perfectly wrong conditions:

 

(Thanks, Wennie Wowney!)

 

All joking aside, I’d take him seriously except even as the self-proclaimed “least racist person” (PROTIP: when one has to point out one is not a racist after saying, doing and promoting racist stuff on a regular basis for decades, it’s a clear sign that one is indeed, a racist), he’s even dumber than you think. I’m betting a nickel he’d choke on his chicken dinner if he found out the fact that Norway’s tax returns for everyone are made public knowledge and are searchable. So there’s that. Perhaps someone from Norway can let him know this as I know he’s sure as hell not going to listen so some brown guy from NY who didn’t vote for him.

Finally, I’m all for anyone at all wanting to come here to America to seek their dreams, but at this point, a transgender Norwegian former Christian turned atheist (who’s not infected by an alien parasite) just popped up to the top of my “Now THAT would be interesting!” list of potential citizens I’d love to meet.

-GW

Mail Call: #TBT Edition

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An early Christmas gift for myself, arriving in time to rescue a bumpy week. Yep. Review incoming – stay tuned. Thank you, Vinegar Syndrome! That packing job was superb and the shipping was super quick. Now, I need to get my grubby paws on that DVD catalog set of yours so I can poke at a few other releases for the library here.

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Back in a bit.

-GW

Liquid Sky: Vinegar Syndrome’s Big Blu Surprise

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Yes (and it’s about time). Throw out those blurry DVD and VHS rips, people. It’s high time for an upgrade after all these years as cult classic Liquid Sky is finally coming to Blu-Ray in remastered form. All you need to know is straight from the press release Vinegar Syndrome sent my way:

The flash preorder is scheduled for THIS THURSDAY September 28th at VinegarSyndrome.com. It will run for 24 hours, starting at 12:00 AM EST ’till 11:59 PM EST. There will be three different purchase options:
• LIQUID SKY
• LIQUID SKY + (2) Secret Black Friday Blu-rays
• Just the (2) Secret Blu-rays

We can’t reveal what the secret Blus are, but we can say that both are highly-requested direct-to-video horror films that were shot and finished on film and have never been available in film sourced editions. One is making its DVD and Blu debut and the other is making its Blu-ray debut, but no past editions of either have been film sourced.

LIQUID SKY comes to Blu-ray in a special limited edition package this Black Friday at VinegarSyndrome.com!

Slava Tsukerman’s new wave, sci-fi masterpiece, LIQUID SKY will be making its worldwide Blu-ray debut during our Black Friday sale (November 24th-27th), EXCLUSIVELY on VinegarSyndrome.com in a special limited edition package!

The release will feature an all new, director and cinematographer approved, 4k restoration from the original camera negative, along side loads of extra features, among them interviews with director Tsukerman, star Anne Carlisle, cinematographer Yuri Neyman, production designer Marina Levikova, among others. Plus never before seen outtakes and production stills, and more!

Womderful. I fully expect this to sell out and fast and I’m betting Vinegar Syndrome does as well. We shall see, of course.

-GW

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

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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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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