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

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Random Film Of The Week: Predator 2

predator_2_ver1As sequels go, Predator 2 shouldn’t even work as well as it does. But here it is in all its Hollywood circa 1990 R-rated violent glory, still making me laugh both with and at it. Granted, you need a particular sense of humor to appreciate the film as a whole, as trying to pick it apart into chunks of good and bad ends up wrecking the work put into making it completely bonkers yet a total blast to sit down with for a spell.

As Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn’t available for this sequel thanks to disagreements over his fee (something a little film called Terminator 2: Judgment Day would take care of forever), the film dropped his Dutch character and moves the setting ten years ahead to a sweaty 1997 Los Angeles where a heat wave and gang warfare lure in a new Predator for some urban hunting action. Inspired casting abounds here, with Danny Glover leading the way as Lieutenant Michael Harrigan, a not quite by the book cop who, like others in these sorts of action flicks, has unconventionally heroic means of getting the job done. Reuben Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso and Bill Paxton also play cops working with Harrigan as Jamaican and Colombian drug gangs blast each other as well as anyone that happens to get between them.

(Thanks, Forever Horror!) 

When the bulk of the Colombian gang is wiped out in what looks like a ritualistic sacrifice, Harrigan and his team immediately suspect the Jamaicans. But the loss of one of his team reveals there’s a third party at work here and Harrigan sets out to get to the bottom of things and possibly get some revenge in the process. Little does he realize that the bottom of things is very literally under the steaming streets in the form of a trophy packed alien ship. Continue reading

Debbie Reynolds: Dancing On That Smile Stage One Final Time

(thanks ozabbazo77!)
 

Ugh. No mas, 2016. This one’s both barrels, folks. If you’ve never seen Singin’ In The Rain, please do so ASAP as it’s not only a great introduction the classic movie musical, it’s probably going to lighten even the grimmest mood when all is said and done.

Back in a bit.

-GW

Blu-Ray Review: The Bloodstained Butterfly

the-bloodstained-butterfly-av063Duccio Tessari’s 1971 thriller The Bloodstained Butterfly is a great entry point to the genre for those squeamish viewers curious about gialli but not willing to commit to the more violent entries known to more ardent fans. The film is part murder mystery, part courtroom drama and part revenge flick, all stylishly shot and scored to excellent effect.

It’s also a bit of a slow fuse to its conclusion, but that’s not a bad thing at all. The film’s structure where a murder is committed and witnessed, a suspect is caught, tried and jailed, but more murders take place is yes, pure TV drama stuff you’ll see on way too many episodes of whatever Law & Order series you’ve been hooked on for who knows how long. But, Tessari’s confident style comes through in every shot, making for a highly watchable viewing experience.

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(Not So) Random Film of the Week: GOG

gogWhile the three films in Ivan Tors Productions’ “Office of Scientific Investigation” (OSI) trilogy haven’t gotten the name recognition or massive fan bases of certain other more well-known franchises, each stands out as a fine example of Tors’ commitment to bringing a more scientific and human touch to the genre. While not going for camp or cheap thrills, the films make for a look into Tors’ heavy interest in pure science fiction with independent films he got made on his own terms.

Beginning with 1953’s The Magnetic Monster, 1954’s Riders to the Stars, and GOG, also released in 1954, the three films trade in the era’s familiar “B” movie antics for drier, more “realistic” hard science mixed with speculative elements. While some action scenes take place in all three films, outside these sequences things are done with a more sedate, almost documentary-like presentation of their assorted plots.

Additionally, all three films can be watched and enjoyed fully in any order, as they tell stories that are connected by a few threads, but don’t contain the same characters. Chief among these threads is men (and women) of science trying to make advances in the field for the future with dramatic (and sometimes unfortunate) results. Or: you can’t make a science-flavored omelette without breaking a few scientist-shaped eggs…
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Random Film of the Week: Model Hunger

MODEL HUNGER KEY ART
 

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 2.30.06 PM 

Oh, I’ll admit right here and now that my eyeballs did a slight roll when Debbie Rochon‘s directorial debut Model Hunger kicked off with a cheerleader squad scene straight out of a Horror 101 how-to film school class. About an hour and twenty minutes later, my eyeballs reflexively rolled WAY back in my head in order to avoid seeing a pretty damn shocking (as in un-seeable) slice of violence that had me put on a pot of coffee at around 4am after the credit roll.

I’m quite sure I saw myself screaming as my eyeballs whipped back into their normal positions, but that’s not important. I wasn’t getting to sleep after that shock, folks. Amusingly enough, it was with that pot that my old coffeemaker gave up the ghost as it malfunctioned, leaking coffee all over the counter and floor. I think it was an emphatic reaction or something even though it was two rooms away in the kitchen. Guess who had a four tea bag cup of tea instead?

Tiffany2 

But I digress. While not perfect, Model Hunger delivers the goods and gore horror fans expect while making for a truly weird as hell experience when all is said and done. While it’s a low-budget “B” at heart, Rochon very cleverly lets the horror and resulting carnage (done via practical effects) build with each kill until that eye popping climactic moment mentioned above. Actually, the eye-popping comes after that climactic moment, but you’ll see for yourself what I’m babbling about because you’ll definitely want to check this out with a few like-minded horror fiends.

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Planet of the Apes Back on the Big Screen: Not Hard to Fathom At All

Image from impawards.com

Image from impawards.com

 


I think I’ve mentioned this before, but in case you haven’t read that old post, 1968’s Planet of the Apes was the very first movie I saw in a theater. That said, I’m not sure I’ll go to this Fathom Events screening thanks to my backlog keeping my plate full. But to anyone seeing this for the first time or for the first time on a big screen, my glass is raised that your sense of wonder gets the same kick mine did those many years back. If YOU do end up going and are reading this, feel free to drop on by and leave impressions. It’s always fun to hear how modern moviegoers see the classics.

What’s Cookin? Lingham’s Makes For Some Saucy Memories

So, yeah. I haven’t done a nice cooking article in a while. But that’s probably because I’ve been in a bit of a food rut for a bit. I guess you could say it was something akin to this, but with me and a great deal less comedy (or something like that):

(thanks, HDTVADDICT!) 

I cook the majority of my meals myself, only occasionally going out to eat or if I’m really lazy, buying precooked soft noodles and tossing assorted appropriate leftovers into a bowl for a zippy but dull lunch or supper. Oh, don’t go weeping into your freshly made consommé, kids – this story has a point! Anyway, about two weeks back I was dinking around the former Deals (which is now a Dollar Tree) picking up a loaf of nice Pepperidge Farms pumpernickel and I spied something that took me back about 30 or so years. Continue reading

Blu-Ray Review: The Mutilator (Fall Break)

The Mutilator AV023If you missed out on Buddy Cooper’s amusing and gory slasher flick The Mutilator way back when it was in theaters or later on VHS, you’re in for a treat thanks to Arrow Video. This one’s got the goofy acting and eyebrow-raising plot holes you’d expect from the genre, but it’s the exceptionally nifty gore effects from Mark Shostrom (Videodrome, Evil Dead II) that will get most viewers on the hook (pun intended).

As for special features, Arrow packs the disc with a raft of bonus content that makes the film a lot more enjoyable thanks to all the great interviews with the cast and crew that participated. These extras are all a great thing as the story here is pretty standard genre wrangling saved by some humor and the aforementioned gore effects.

Ten years after accidentally shooting his mother, Ed Jr. (Matt Mitler) gets a phone call from his dad with a request to close up his beach condo for the winter. After his girlfriend Pam (Ruth Martinez), and school chums Ralph (Bill Hitchcock), Sue (Connie Rogers), Mike (Morey Lampley), and Linda (Frances Raines) invite themselves along for a little fun in the cool fall sun, they discover the condo in a rather messy state. Chalking it up to Big Ed being drunk with a few friends, two of the teens commence their usual getting drunk and splitting up for some alone time antics. Let’s just say Big Ed has a little (okay, somewhat large and sharp) axe to grind with his son… and his poor friends just so happen to be in the wrong place at the right time for him to get in some prime chop time. Continue reading