Friday, November 27, 2015

Midnight Movie: Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)

I know it's not as catchy as "Midnight Movie Monday," but I'm moving this feature to Fridays. I don't have a reason, but midnight movies are better on Fridays anyway.

one of the few videos on YouTube which doesn't have spoilers

Yeah, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia isn't exactly what I had in mind when I started this feature, as the film is entirely lacking in the cheese I typically crave, but it's got everything else I love about exploitation movies: physical drama, urgent characters, quick women, and tons of senseless, sometimes tragic violence. That and, frankly, I was simply in the mood for Peckinpah.

Look, the weather has me pissed off and I need an outlet. Peckinpah films are good for that.


When the powerful and presumably criminal El Jefe (Emilio Fernández) finds out who impregnated his teenage daughter, he puts a million dollar bounty on the man's head—literally. Months later, a couple of the tie-wearing goons end up in a rundown bar in Mexico City, asking questions about Garcia. It's there they meet the American piano player, Bennie (Warren Oats), who plays stupid. He doesn't know where Garcia is, but he's got a lead: his prostitute girlfriend, Elita (Isela Vega).

Not only does Elita know where Garcia is, she's been planning on leaving Bennie for him. The thing is, Alfredo Garcia has promised to marry Elita, while Bennie remains reluctant to commit to the woman whose whoring days are likely coming to an end. None of that matters, though: Garcia's been dead and buried for a few days now. Bennie blows Elita off and, armed with this new information, seeks out the goons in their hotel room. Not knowing just how much it's actually worth, he agrees to bring them the head of Alfredo Garcia in exchange for ten grand. They agree, giving him a deadline of a few days. They probably don't have to mention it, but they do anyway: if he runs out on the deal, they'll hunt him down next.


The night before the journey into Mexican countryside begins, Elita visits Bennie in the middle of the night to make up. In the morning, he's merrily killing crabs with his bedside booze. Later, he even brings himself to propose marriage, but neither he or Elita seem entirely convinced by his enthusiasm. Nonetheless, he brings her along for the trip, which proves to be a mistake when they run into a couple of motorcycle-riding rapists, one of whom is played by Kris Kristofferson. If there's anything that illustrates the stark contrast between the gritty realism of 70s and the almost entirely PG-13 rated present, it's that music/movie stars used to cameo as rapists. Imagine Will Smith or Justin Timberlake doing the same.

My favorite thing about movies like Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, and crime films in general, is they can take otherwise decent people and put them in potentially soul-altering situations. Bennie, a U.S. Army vet, has no qualms about gunning down the bikers, so it's not taking a man's life that threatens his soul. No, it's the moment he digs Garcia up and looms over the corpse with a machete in hand. I believe that's what plot-conscious screenwriters refer to as an "inciting incident." Once he crosses that line, there's no turning back.

A lot of the talking in the last third of the movie is Bennie justifying his increasingly disturbing decisions to Garcia's head, which has begun to draw flies as well as stares from the locals. These monologues, as the character unravels, are like something out of an acid western and indicate Warren Oates was a treasure—all the more so when compared to the too-perfect genes of most leading men. (One of my favorite films with Oates is Two-Lane Blacktop, which I'll eventually get around to putting in this feature.)


The point is, Oates should've been the leading man in a more films, which makes Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia a lot more precious. It's an exciting, unpretentious joyride with a mad man behind the wheel. And if you're wondering if "mad man" refers to Peckinpah or the hero, I'm not sure. It hits hard and kicks ass. Just what I needed on this dreary, ass-freezing day.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Western Wednesday: Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970)

the trailer contains a massive spoiler, so here's the Morricone theme instead

"Everybody's got a right to be a sucker once."

It's the classic opener: the gunslinger stumbles upon a damsel in distress in the middle of the desert. This time the gunslinger is Clint Eastwood and the damsel is Shirley MacLaine. The two of them play Hogan and Sara. After Hogan guns down the group of would-be rapists, Sara puts her clothes back on.

Hogan's thrown for a loop when he sees the habit and the rosary. He doesn't feel right leaving a nun all alone in the desert, so he agrees to take her with him, even after he discovers Sara's in deep shit with the French for providing money and support to Mexican revolutionaries.

Two Mules for Sister Sara is a comedy that sometimes forgets it's also a western until it overcompensates in its climax, which is jarringly and uncharacteristically violent. The rest of the film is pretty funny, sure, but it must have been disappointing to see it during its original run, only a year after the release of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which is really funny and a lot more evenly cooked.

The running gag: although she's a nun, Sara says and does some unlikely things. After Hogan helps her climb into a tree, he sincerely apologizes for touching her bottom. "It's no sin that you pushed me up the tree with your hands on my ass," she says. Hogan's double-take is priceless.

But that's pretty much all it is: funny. There's some amusing dialog, good writing, and a touching moment or two, but it's little more than a solid entertainment that feels like it's playing it a little too safe. It comes from a time when westerns were like Marvel movies and the studios were just as reluctant to adjust the formula as they are today. That so many people seem to consider Two Mules for Sister Sara to be some kind of classic sets the bar for classics just a little too low. It's a good movie and I'll probably even watch it again someday, but I personally wouldn't say it's great.

And that's just fine.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Midnight Movie: Sonny Boy (1989)

Note: The version I saw is six minutes shorter than the unrated cut (spoilers in that link) which was only released in the UK. Thankfully, there's a special place in hell for proponents of film censorship.

I would have rather seen it in this aspect ratio

Wow. It's been a long time since I've seen a movie modified for 4:3. Especially one with such incompetent panning and scanning. Unfortunately, VHS is probably the only way you can see Sonny Boy, a weird little film that apparently never made the leap to disc or digital media. Pan and scan this terrible is like trying to watch a movie through a telescope, but someone else is holding it to your eye. It's a pain in the ass, but it's worth watching it this way until someone tracks down the rights and gives the film a proper release.

Sonny Boy opens on a secluded motel where a young couple are being spied on by a good-for-nothing desert thug named Weasel (Brad Dourif), who looks pretty much how you'd expect a guy named Weasel to look. Weasel murders the couple and takes off in their convertible, which he tries to sell to the local crime boss, Slue (Paul Smith, who played Bluto in Popeye). Slue is a grown-up bully who lives in a junkyard of stolen merchandise with his transvestite wife, Pearl (David Carradine, who also provides the theme song). As Slue and Weasel are negotiating the price of the stolen convertible, Pearl notices there's a baby boy in the backseat and she immediately adopts him as her own.


So what happens when a baby is raised by a trio of monsters? First, they give him "the gift of silence" by cutting out his tongue. Then, in a montage of Sonny Boy's formative years, we see how Slue and Weasel physically torture Sonny, against Pearl's wishes, in order to toughen him up for the real world. These games of abuse culminate in Sonny Boy's rite of adulthood, in which Slue ties the boy to a stake and Weasel lights a ring of fire around him. You'll see Pearl off to the side, desperately trying to put the fire out with a tiny bucket of water. She's shaking her head as if to say, "Oh, boys will be boys."

I know all this sounds horrific, but it's kind of sweet—perhaps bitterly so—in the surreal context of the film. The film makes no excuses for the way its characters behave, but it's clear this is the only way these people know how to raise a kid, a kid they clearly love and care about. You begin to wonder if the reason they lack a moral compass is the same reason Sonny Boy lacks one: perhaps they were raised like animals, too. Anyway, one day Sonny sees himself in the mirror for the first time, face covered with the blood of Slue's enemy, which inspires the boy-in-a-man's-body to begin the long, difficult process of deprogramming himself...

Or something like that.


There's a lot that's wrong with the film (such as an overly explanatory voiceover, a cheat of an ending, and a hamfisted message about tolerance, acceptance, yatta, yatta, yatta), but it's clear the movie was a labor of love. There are plenty of creative shots, surprisingly great casting, and an unwillingness to make the film something it isn't in order to satisfy more commercial audiences. According to the grapevine, the subject matter of Sonny Boy was so disturbing, theaters pulled it from showings within days of its release. I don't buy that because the film simply isn't that disturbing. I think the real reason it was pulled is couldn't have been a crowd-pleaser in 1989, which seems to be the year moviegoers began demanding more of a film's budget than the content itself.


Mere minutes into Sonny Boy, I was reminded of a type of film I haven't thought about in a long time. Growing up in the late eighties and nineties, there was no shortage of small, "quiet" films on HBO and Cinemax, films I'd never heard of before they simply came on one day and unexpectedly hooked me. I honestly don't know how to explain these types of movies, and I'm sure the TV programmers only acquired them for filler content, but they were kind of like the younger, unknown siblings to "slice of life" films like Something Wild. In other words, they were smaller versions of mainstream movies when movies had more in common with novels than video games.

Ultimately, that's what's most satisfying about Sonny Boy: its unexpected restraint. I probably would have liked it just as much if "the joke" was that you get to see the star of Kung Fu in a dress, but amazingly, it doesn't go there. Sure, there are people who get thoroughly blown up by artillery shells, but if you're looking for a raunchy exploitation film to show a drunk and rowdy crowd, Sonny Boy isn't the one. That doesn't mean it's not worth a watch on a hungover Sunday morning, though.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Western Wednesday: Django (1966)

I figured if I'm going to start a weekly feature on the western genre, I might as well kick it off with one of the best. Django is among the finest spaghetti westerns that doesn't have Leone's name on it. I was also disappointed that last Monday's midnight movie (The Visitor) didn't have more Franco Nero in it, so here's to rectifying that problem. (I have a feeling a lot of the movies in this feature are going to have Nero, Lee Van Cleef, and/or a director named Sergio.)


The story of Django opens with the gunslinger himself (Nero) dragging a coffin through all manner of mud. Later, when he finally makes it to a saloon, someone asks him if there's a body in the box. Django replies, "Yeah. His name is Django."

I won't spoil who's actually in Django's coffin, but you'll find out for yourself less than a third of the way into the movie. I'm getting ahead of myself, though.


Seconds after the opening credits, Django happens upon a gruesome scene: a gang of bandits are preparing to bludgeon a prostitute to death. You expect Django to intervene, but he doesn't. Instead, he watches from afar as a second gang swoops in and lays waste to the first. You think the prostitute's life has been spared until you realize the men are only untying her to retie her to a cross, which they intend to torch. "Burnin's a lot better than getting beaten to death," they assure her.

You get the feeling Django has been praying he doesn't have to get involved with this bullshit. By then it's clear it's no longer his decision to make. He's operating on autopilot when he approaches the men and says in his surreal, dubbed voice, "If I bothered you, would you accept my apology?" A split second later his pistol comes out, blazing hell-fire, and drops the five men in the blink of an eye.

Eduardo Fajardo as Major Jackson

It sounds a lot more clichéd than it is. Django's the real deal—a character of such popularity and charm he's kind of been portrayed by a dozen different actors in dozens of movies (although a lot of those movies just slapped "Django" onto their titles for commercial reasons). Like a lot of legends, the details change depending on who's telling it, but overall the important stuff remains the same if not outright ripped off.

No, Django doesn't merely have clichés, but employs them to leverage the action forward. Director Sergio Corbucci is well aware his audience already knows everything we need to know about saloons, hookers, and bandits, so there's no time wasted on introductions. Besides, the character himself is a consolidation of only the finest elements that gave the clichés staying power in the first place. 

Maria (Loredana Nusciak) and General Hugo (José Bódalo)

After saving the prostitute's life, Django takes her to town, finds a room, and meets the leader of the local Klan, Major Jackson. Jackson gets his rocks off on hunting innocent Mexicans for sport. After gunning down over forty of Jackson's men, Django finds himself at the center of a war between Jackson's gang and General Hugo Rodriguez's bandits. Hugo's an old friend of Django's, so the two of them team up.

Everything I've described is enough to fill a routine western to the brim, but in Django all this happens in the first third of the movie. Sure, it's mostly style over substance, but Django is tragic, shamelessly entertaining, and absurdly violent. If you've never seen it before, be prepared to get amped.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Midnight Movie: The Visitor (1979)



The Visitor opens on a plane of unreality in which a force of good (John Huston) comes face to face with a force of evil. When the evil flings off its sacramental robe, it reveals it has taken the form of a little girl. Cut to a different plane of existence: Franco Nero, in Christ-like garb, tells a group of bald disciples the mystical backstory concerning these forces. I'll be damned if my eyes didn't glaze over at this long, dull explanation, which is probably why I had so much trouble following the rest of the movie.

Maybe I would have been lost anyway, but it's worth noting a great deal of The Visitor suddenly made sense in the end. Whether or not the rest of it means anything is up to the individual viewer.

You'll probably want The Visitor to take you on a cosmic trip. With exposition like Nero's, though, the film is like winning a free vacation, but only after listening to a sales pitch for timeshares. I'm not saying it's a bad movie. It's actually quite good for borrowing so heavily from so many different sources. (Rosemary's Baby and The Omen came to mind for me. Others have compared it to everything from The Exorcist to Star Wars.) Despite these obvious influences, you've never seen anything like The Visitor and you'll never see anything like it again.


Following its dreamlike prologue, the audience is whisked away to the un-magical land of a basketball game in Atlanta, Georgia. When the away team nearly turns over the score in the final seconds, a little girl in the front row uses her supernatural powers to make the basketball explode in the player's hands. (No one seems to think it's weird that the basketball blew up like a gunpowder-stuffed piñata. You'd think any ref who witnesses something like that would at least call interference.)

The eight year old girl responsible for the exploding basketball trick is accompanied by her mother, played by Joanne Nail (Switchblade Sisters). Nail's character is being courted by Lance Henriksen, the owner of the basketball team. Henriksen proposes to the girl's mother, who refuses his offer despite creepy persistence. We soon learn Henriksen is an agent of evil when we see him in the boardroom of rich and powerful Illuminati types. The mysterious figures, led by Mel Ferrer, remind Henriksen that their evil plot hinges on Nail getting pregnant again. Apparently their goal is the sort of event that happens whenever the gatekeeper comes into contact with the key master. 


Meanwhile John Huston's character, the inter-dimensional traveler from Nero's plane of existence, arrives on Earth. He can freely hop between realms, but requires a commercial airliner to take him to Atlanta. When the little girl discovers her arch-nemesis is on Earth, she angrily uses her Omen-like powers to turn a birthday gift into a loaded gun and promptly shoots her mother in the spine. This "accident" leads to a couple more surprisingly high-profile talents: Shelly Winters and Glenn Ford, who play the new nanny and a police detective. Later the film will introduce Nail's ex-husband, a doctor played by Sam Peckinpah. 

Seriously. All these people are in this movie. If you only like one of these people, you owe it to yourself to see this movie.

The problem with The Visitor (and I'm nitpicking here because the more I look back on it, the more I like it) is it has too much plot for what it wants to be. And it's a plot that will be just a little too familiar for fans of pre-Halloween horror. I usually love movies like this and I'm no stranger to psychedelic journeys, but no one's asking directors of acid films to stitch together their visual exercises with coherent—but ultimately pointless—plots. I just feel The Visitor would work a lot better if it didn't try to be so damned routine in between its short bursts of wonderful lunacy. 


The Visitor is a film for viewers who love film itself. I couldn't recommend it to anyone else.

Friday, November 13, 2015

MST3K's new Kickstarter has already raised over a million bucks


As much as I like RiffTrax, it just doesn't have that public access charm that Mystery Science Theater 3000 managed to retain despite moving to The Comedy Channel and, later, Sci-Fi Channel. Be sure to read Joel Hodgson's "5 Burning Questions About #BringBackMST3K" on the Kickstarter page. He eases most of the doubts any fan might have.

As usual, you can catch up on your MST3K viewing on Netflix as well as ShoutFactoryTV, which, until a few moments ago, I didn't even know was a thing. And what a glorious thing it is.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Some Fallout 4 tips (PC)

A lot of these tips aren't necessarily hidden, just kind of unclear at the get-go, so I'm aiming this at players who just got the game. I'm 16 hours into the game, so I'll probably be adding tips as I play a little more. Also, a lot of this stuff is subject to change with future patches and updates.

sure, you can run the game at 60fps... if you're willing to jump through hoops

First of all, you can run the game at 60fps, but it totally breaks the game physics. According to Reddit user Dynasty2201: "You run faster and lockpicking becomes impossible." Look, 60fps would be nice (and its exclusion is fucking ridiculous, to be honest), but is it really worth breaking the game?

To auto-walk or auto-run, press X on the keyboard.

Most people are aware Caps Lock toggles between run and walk, but it also toggles between a slow sneak and a super slow sneak. I was having some trouble sneaking by a group of mutants until I realized this.

Radiation matters more than ever now as it lowers your maximum HP. This means Rad-X and Rad-Away are a lot more important than in previous games. Short of paying a doctor 40 caps, Rad-Away is, as far as I know, the only way to remove radiation sickness.

Early on, you'll probably need concrete for Sanctuary quests. I wasted several minutes looking for it until I realized you can "scrap" various things in the settlement (including cars, collapsed houses, fences, and mailboxes) by pressing V on the keyboard to go into Workshop Mode. You will see the option at the bottom of the Workshop menu, which is activated by pressing R while facing (highlighting) whatever you wish to scrap.

sit... good boy!

Throwing grenades is way more confusing than it should be for PC players. I understand console players have limited buttons, but assigning it to the same key that performs a melee strike is probably the dumbest thing about Fallout 4's controls. You can reassign the key all you want, but you can't split the functions up between two keys. This means whenever you try to pistol whip someone, it's all to easy to toss a molotov instead, setting your enemy as well as yourself on fire. I have a feeling this will be fixed in a future update, but not soon. Anyway, if you want to melee, don't hold the key down. If you want to throw a grenade, make sure you've equipped the grenade and hold the key down until you hear a click.

The Sort option at the bottom of your Pip-Boy's Inventory menu is your new best friend. To the right of "Sort" you'll see parentheses which shows what you're currently sorting by, such as value, weight, and damage.

When bartering, you can highlight your own inventory or the trader's inventory, then press right or left on the arrow keys to sort by weapons, ammo, junk, etc. Speaking of junk...

In most games you can safely sell or ignore junk. In Fallout 4 it's a lot more important for construction. This makes deciding what to take and what to drop a little more overwhelming, but having a companion carry some of the load makes it a little easier.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Fallout 4: First impressions

I just spent a little over five hours in FO4. I apologize for the lack of action shots, but hey, at least there won't be any major spoilers. Here's what my sleep-deprived brain thinks so far...


The character editor is a little wonky.

Update: Having seen some of the character creations players have posted this morning, I'm convinced my brain broke during this part of the game... maybe I just didn't entirely understand how the controls worked. What I originally wrote is as follows:

I had some trouble adjusting features exactly as I wanted and I was a little disappointed in the range. After spending around twenty minutes in the editor, my character's facial features barely looked any different than the stock facial type I chose when I began. You get another chance to change your look before you leave the vault, but I have a feeling I'm stuck with what I've created. Which is kind of a bummer. I want my character's look to grow as she does. (I thought it was cool to give her gray hair after coming out of the cryos.)

Update: Apparently there's a barber in Diamond City. He can change your hair, but it doesn't look like you can change any other features elsewhere in the game. I'd personally like to add wrinkles and scars as the game progresses. They should patch in a tattoo parlor for superficial stuff like that.


The prologue is short and sweet. 

I was eager to get into the wasteland as soon as possible. No birthdays, no ink blot tests, no bullshit. There's around twenty minutes between the opening credits and leaving the vault. It's just not as plodding as previous FO games, which will make replays a little less painful.


The main objective, so far, is kind of a downer. 

I had the same complaint about Dead Rising 2: when I play an open world game, I don't want too much responsibility. With an objective like "find your kidnapped baby boy," it's hard to believe your character would be enticed by relatively pointless side quests like "build a chair." If you play games purely for the challenge rather than the roleplay, you probably won't be bothered by this at all. Those of you who like to submerse yourselves into the character, on the other hand, might feel pressured into rushing the main quests. I just wish the plot was a little bit lighter so that I could go screaming into the wasteland like a maniac from Mad Max.


Companions are kind of annoying, but helpful... usually.

I really dislike the dog (so far) because it has an annoying tendency to place itself in my line of fire. Codsworth is good for carrying loot when you get encumbered, but his lights and inexplicable disappearing acts get annoying. So far I've had trouble getting him to follow my commands. He often says, "I'm afraid that isn't possible," even when it's perfectly clear he should have no problem at all. Having said that, I usually hate companions in games and FO4's friendly AI can be pretty impressive at times.


The graphics and gameplay are smooth on day one.

I'm running my graphics on ultra with an Intel Core i5-4690k, 16 gigs of RAM, and a GTX 970. The first ten minutes of gameplay felt a little choppy for some reason, but after leaving the vault I haven't had many, if any, complaints. It's sad I feel the need to commend a game for simply working, but that's the state of the video games industry, I guess. Nonetheless, this feels a lot smoother than New Vegas and part 3.


It's kind of easy to get stuck.

Be careful when walking or jumping between walls and objects like cars because you might end up having to reload a previous save. So far, though, it's not nearly as sticky as a Grand Theft Auto game.



The controls are kind of annoying.

If you want to exit your Pip-Boy, you have to press Tab. If you want to exit a work station, you have to press Tab and then Esc. It's just the tiniest bit frustrating that Esc will exit some menus, but bring up the pause screen in others. You'll see what I mean when you play it.


It doesn't do anything new.

That's not a complaint. This feels like a Fallout game turned up to 11, which is probably what we all wanted. It's already a lot more polished than New Vegas and a helluva lot more exciting. We've got a good contender for game of the year here. It's not as smooth as The Witcher 3 yet and some of the additions like crafting and power armor and the new perk system might become intimidating to more casual players, but so far I'm having a blast.


It's going to be hard going to bed tonight. Hell, it 's going to be hard going to bed for many nights to come.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Midnight Movie: Masters of the Universe


Here's one I haven't seen since I was five or six years old. I don't think I watched Saturday morning cartoons when I was a kid, so the extent of what I know about He-Man comes from Masters of the Universe. I'm pointing this out so I don't offend the die hard fans out there with my ignorance. For all intents and purposes, I'm an adult who's just been exposed to the He-Man mythos for the first time. Let's not pretend this movie was made for people my age. The extremely obvious attempts at comic relief make that perfectly clear.


The mighty warrior He-Man (Dolph Lundgren) lives on planet Eternia, home of Castle Grayskull. The castle, which holds a plethora of magic secrets, has just been seized by the villainous Skeletor (Frank Langella) and the commander of his hellish army, a witch named Evil-Lyn (Meg Foster). There the villains have taken "The Sorceress of Grayskull" hostage with the help of a "cosmic key" which rips holes in the space-time continuum. Sooner than later this plot device will conveniently usher the characters to Earth, probably because the producers couldn't raise enough money to shoot the entire film on the Eternia sets, which I imagine is what we all came for in the first place.

It's on Earth that a duplicate of this cosmic key is lost and He-Man must recover it before Skeletor's minions do. Joining him are a character named Man-At-Arms, a troll, and a female warrior known as Teela, played by Death Spa's Chelsea Field. (I've always thought Field had an interesting and unusually photogenic look, so I was thrilled to see her in a sort of Red Sonja role even though she's relegated to keeping lookout in the background of too many scenes.) This band of heroes cross paths with the most insignificant characters in the film: a couple of teenagers played by Courtney Cox and TV actor Robert Duncan McNeill.


I'm guessing Cox and McNeill's characters weren't part of the original He-Man mythos. They feel like an afterthought, added by misguided screenwriting logic: "We should give audience members someone they can relate to!" The film wastes so much time on these sickeningly white bread teenagers it's a cheat to everyone who came to see swords, sorcery, and cheesy action. If, like me, you thought Masters of the Universe was going to be set almost entirely in a fantastical world like Flash Gordon, you're going to be disappointed anyway.

Masters of the Universe desperately wants to be the next Star Wars film, and although Bill Conti's music and most of the camerawork are pretty good, you tend to realize you're watching the first take of many scenes. In one action sequence, He-Man is heroically holding off the bad guys as his friends flee through a doorway. Meanwhile the door itself, which is supposed to be propped against a wall, keeps falling and distracting Lundgren from his acting. Later, when being lashed by one of Skeletor's henchmen, Lundgren's reactions to the whip are hilariously out of sync. Early on there's a big panoramic showing Skeletor's army of bad guys marching prisoners of war across a battlefield. One of the bad guy extras trips front and center and has trouble standing back up. You'll hear echoes of Johnny Depp's Ed Wood enthusiastically yelling, "Cut! Print!"

Which isn't to say this is a cheap movie. Despite the flaws, Masters of the Universe just isn't bad enough to warrant a midnight movie-going audience. And despite some wonderful costume creations, it isn't good enough for adults, either, partly because the villains' inability to kill anyone plays out at the expense of suspense. The film looks pretty damn good in HD and roughly half of the special FX are kind of impressive, but Frank Langella's skull makeup restricts his performance rather than enhancing it.


If you ever wondered why movie adaptations differ so much from their source materials, Masters of the Universe is the answer. A movie should stand on its own. I suspect MotU's intended for fans who've already explored the rich universe in various media and are already familiar with Man-At-Arms, Teela, and the entirely pointless inclusion of the Sorceress of Grayskull. As an introduction to the He-Man universe, MotU is like walking in on a modern television series midway through.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Introducing Monday Midnight Movies!

Midnight Movie Monday begins November 9th.

UPDATE: So yeah, as of November 27th, 2015, this feature is going to be on Fridays. Just makes more sense.

ANOTHER FUCKIN' UPDATE: So yeah again... as of January 2016, I'm, uh, kind of not doing this weekly at the moment. Too many 2015 movies to catch up on.

Like I said a couple days ago, I'm planning a weekly feature which resembles 31 Days of Gore, but it'll be a lot broader in terms of genre choices. Considering I just did well over thirty horror movies in a row, I'll probably focus on action, science fiction, and fantasy for a while. I won't be reviewing new movies for Midnight Movies (a title which is subject to change, by the way), and I'll either choose terrible movies or exploitation films (or both) for this new feature.

I'm actually eager to see this shit again

Any movie I want to talk about which doesn't fit my idea of a midnight movie will appear no differently than movie reviews often appeared on this site in the past... in other words: sporadically. So if it's a new release in theaters or on VOD, it will not be featured in Midnight Movies.

Although it's not written in stone, here's my current criteria for Midnight Movies:

  • Movies that never quite made the leap from VHS to DVD (such as Sonny Boy)
  • Movies I haven't seen since I was a kid (such as Masters of the Universe)
  • Movies with high exploitation values (such as Malibu Express)
  • Movies that are unimaginably awful (such as the Anna Nicole Smith vehicle, Skyscraper)
  • Movies oozing pure, unadulterated cheese... my favorite flavor

What this feature will ultimately become is anyone's guess. I'm not sure I'll do it every Monday, either. I'm just trying something new. We'll see how it goes


So why am I finally introducing regular features to this blog after updating it so sporadically for the past few years? The older I get, the more I like regularity in my life. That and I want to experiment a little with this blog's content.

Once again: Midnight Movie Monday starts November 9th. I imagine it'll be mostly weekly. Mostly.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

First impressions: Ash Vs. Evil Dead


Like I said, I don't really want to talk about horror right now after doing nothing but horror movies last month. Still, I can't very well say nothing about Ash Vs. Evil Dead.

I loved most of it. I laughed quite a bit ("You like my wooood?!"). I'm quite pleased that, once again, the entire reason Ash has to save the world is because of his own stupidity. I've always preferred the visual tone of Evil Dead 2 over Army of Darkness, so I'm glad the showrunners appear to be going back to that. I'm tickled to death Lucy Lawless is in it because... well, it just makes so much sense to me.

Otherwise, not all the gags worked for me and I don't care too much about the subplot yet. I've seen and heard nothing but good things about Ash Vs. Evil Dead, but I couldn't help but feel disappointed it's only thirty minutes long. Sure, it's good to be left wanting more, but I wanted so much more. Ultimately, though, I think that's pretty high praise, right?

I'll have more to say later on.