Random Film of the Week: The Brain That Wouldn’t Die

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Not inspired by actual events!

brainBy 1981, I’d seen The Brain That Wouldn’t Die on TV maybe a half dozen times and had started going to sci-fi conventions the previous year, my first being the old Creation Conventions here in NYC. I bring this up because it was at one in 1981 where I met a rather quirky gentleman named Jack Tiger (J.G. to his friends) and ended up working with him on a project that could have been popular at the time, but wasn’t able to get fully off the ground.

Now, I should be reviewing either one of his two low-budget films here or at the very least the film that gained me some temporary employment with the man,  Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror, a film that had neither a Frankenstein and thanks to the censors here, nor much Bloody Terror in it. Now, I’ll admit that I haven’t seen it in decades and really need to do so again, but in its original uncut Spanish version. Also, I’ve only ever seen one of Jack’s films by very happy accident a few years back on TCM when I came home very early in the morning from a lousy party I stayed too long at, and it was on TV unexpectedly.  So, Brain it is because it’s a fun flick and there’s also a small personal connection there you’ll read on and find out about. So, read on, please.

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Jan thought the Doc was kidding when he said she could lose about 100 pounds in a crash diet…

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A (Very Good) Thought (2)

A Bad Man

It’s just one of those days, is it not?

If at some point today you woke up in a cornfield without having been turned into a jack-in-the box, consider that a very good thing, sort of. There’s a way out, but it’s a bit of a hike, though. You do have a compass in your pocket and some good walking shoes, I hope?

 

Thanks, The Twilight Zone!)

 

Who would have thought a lot of people just wanted some cheap peach brandy and a good Perry Como record… and that the late Rod Serling had a built-in barometer?

-GW

The Heavy Lifting, Courtesy TCM

(TCM)

 

I was a bit under the weather yesterday, so I was offline resting my brain and had no idea Kirk Douglas had “left the building” as they say until very early this morning. Needless to say, that wasn’t a good thing to wake up to. Still, at age 103, you could safely say the man lived quite a long life and as an actor, producer and person of some talent and merit for a good deal of those years. Turner Classic Movies has posted two videos about Douglas so far today, but I bet there will be more on a few performances from his individual films at some point.

I don’t have a favorite role of his, but the first film that comes to mind is the monumental and powerful Paths of Glory, which kept an entire theater silent when I first saw in at a Stanley Kubrick retrospective a few decades ago. There are a good deal of other films and performances of his as well to consider, but I’m too weary to cover more here at the moment. I’ll bet on a blogathon of his work in the future that tosses in a few films will likely help some in discovering or recalling the man’s work, but let’s wait and see, shall we?

 

 

(TCM)

 

-GW

ALIEN @ 40(-ish) Still Has It (…Mostly)

ALIEN 40

A bit late to the party, but I have my reasons…

So, I waited a few days to post this to more or less commemorate the day I went to see ALIEN some 40 years ago. I was 15, and I took the day off from school to hoof it down to Times Square just to see this on a larger screen than was available in the Bronx. Or, I probably went downtown because I didn’t wan to be caught walking into or out of a theater there showing it. Or both. Anyway, it happened and as with Star Wars before that, I’d say my cinematic life took an upswing thanks to some fine film-making that recalled things I’d seen in the past. Ridley Scott’s direction was impressive, the cast was great and what more can be said about the production design and art direction that combined a few distinct art styles you’d think wouldn’t mesh together at all into something so… beautiful to look at?

(Thanks, Moviepilot Trailers!)

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Bill Paxton: It’s Hard To Forget The Guy You Saw In Everything


 

So, we’ve lost Bill Paxton too. Foo. Rather than run clips or comments of and about the well-known sci-fi/fantasy flicks he was a part of, I’ll just leave two viewing suggestions you may not have seen or maybe have seen but not in a while. Up top is One False Move, director Carl Franklin’s great, kind of 90’s noir about a trio of criminals who commit a series of murders in Los Angeles and escape to the tiny town of Star City, Arkansas. Paxton played the bored and too eager for action sheriff Dale “Hurricane” Dixon who gets more than he bargains for after LAPD detectives roll into town. The film also features Billy Bob Thornton (who co-wrote the story with Tom Epperson) in a key role as one of the killers. I won’t spoil more other than to say it’s a brilliant thriller with a few curve balls up its sleeve.


 

The second film is in my opinion, Sam Raimi’s most perfect movie, 1998’s A Simple Plan. Author Scott Smith adapted his great 1993 novel into the screenplay and we get Paxton and Thornton working together again as Hank and Jacob Mitchell, two brothers who along with a friend of Jacob’s (Brent Briscoe), discover a crashed plane with a dead pilot and over 4 million dollars in cash inside. Yes, the take the money. Hank being the smartest of the bunch keeps it safe, but things go deep south as greed, anger and a bit of murder follow the man and their ill-gotten sack of loot. Both films would make a nice double feature, but feel free to add the excellent, disturbing Paxton-directed thriller Frailty to that short stack (or tall stack if it’s a marathon):


 

Yeah, I said two films, I know. But I think Bill would have probably appreciated the gesture, this going off script stuff. So long, pal – you made the movies you were in a lot better for a good while and will continue to do so each time fans go back and discover or rediscover everything you were part of.

-GW

All Things Must Past: A Towering Tribute on DVD

all things must pass
 

Remember when Tower Records was THE place to hit regularly for everything from the latest music, to movies, books, and even clothes? I sure do. If you’re nodding and wistfully smiling, well… good. This documentary set for a 9/13 release should be on your must-watch list, then. Take a peek at that clip below and sure, hit up the MVD Shop if you want to pre-purchase it.


 

National Toy Hall of Fame Inductees: Three Times the Fun!

Toy Hall of Fame 2014 Inductees

Image courtesy of The Strong, Rochester, New York.

Before you even ask, yes, there is a National Toy Hall of Fame. It’s part of the National Museum of Play up in Rochester, NY and I’d say it’s a bucket list trip for anyone with even the slightest interest in any sort of toy or game from their childhood. Today the Museum inducted a trio of all-time classics into the Toy Hall of Fame and some of you are already grinning at that photo above. This year’s inductees made me laugh out loud because as soon as I heard the news this morning, I was hoping to heck that someone at the Museum would have made a cool diorama with a few squads of Army Men on some alien or other landscape (maybe Washington D.C.?) fighting off an “invasion” by a giant Rubik’s Cube with Bubbles floating in the shot to give it the look of some low-budget sci-fi flick.

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Courtesy of The Strong®, Rochester, New York

Hey, Mario Bava would have done it up right, I bet. That said, the Museum’s presentation was certainly creative and entertaining. Dancers from the Rochester City Ballet appeared in life-size Army Men outfits, there was a gigantic Rubik’s Cube mosaic (made up of 200 pounds of Rubik’s Cubes), and the Bubble Man himself, Doug Rougeux doing his amazing thing at the event. Okay, all that was MORE creative than my crummy diorama idea maybe two people would have gotten the joke about. What can I say other that I like obscure references only a handful of people would understand…

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Codemasters Gets Me Rally Longing For The Good Old Days…

I think someone at Codemasters is psychic. Last week, I broke out both Colin McRae Rally and Colin McRae Rally 2.0 just to dive in for a bit and see if they still held up today and yes indeed, they do. While the series went through some big changes as the series moved to new platforms, there was always a solid sense of fun and challenge that made each installment thrilling to blaze through. When the series changed its name to DiRT and its direction to a “cooler” racer in order to rope in younger fans of the X Games or other extreme sports, things definitely slid a bit sideways. The last few installments are all great looking games, but to me, there’s something missing… a certain spirit, if you will. Granted, Colin McRae is no longer with us, so that’s probably the missing element those later games haven’t been able to capture. Seeing that intro video above and playing the game for a little while made me hope Codemasters will go back to the drawing board and deliver a rally game that’s as fun and wickedly addictive as the first few in the series. Strip it down, but make it rich with detail, lose the big social focus (or make it completely optional) and maybe even bring back the goofy bonuses from the older titles just because it’s great to see a surprise ride or three after a ton of hard work.

Thank You, David Lynch For Making It Clear (Again)…

(Thanks, BrittneyGilbert!) 

So, I’m working on a long post about the demise of movie theaters in the area where I live because it just blows my mind to bits that something like fifteen to twenty or more cinemas around here are gone for what seems to be good and it’s a total joke that no one seems to care or mind. Granted, those people who don’t give a crap are a big part of the reason why theaters are vanishing from this part of NYC, but tell them that and they tend to get a bit more obnoxious than they would if you told them to shut off their damned cell phone BEFORE they even bought their tickets. Anyway, mini-rant over (although it’s not really a rant at all)… Back in a bit.

It’s Friday Night! Time To Get Dancing, People!

Well, you’re still here and I’m still busy. Hmmm… what to do, what to do? Ah, this should keep you entertained for a hot minute (take it away, Gene!):

Now, THAT’S what I call ACTUAL reality TV, folks! I do miss the late, great Chuck Barris and all his bizarrely awesome programming that more or less changed the landscape of entertainment telly as we know it (yeah, for better and worse). Yeah, I know loads of substances were involved in the making of these shows back then, but there’s a certain insane purity to this stuff that’s FAR more honest than anything claiming to be “real” on TV today. Go dig up some old clips of the man’s huge body of work and see for yourself, I say…