Saturday, September 26, 2009

CHILDREN OF THE CORN (1984) -childhood trauma

I do not like the 1984 film CHILDREN OF THE CORN. I rarely speak of this dislike because I don’t think there are many people out there that actually like it. I can’t at all understand how someone could like the film but for some unknowable reason someone must because they have made at least six sequels over the years. Six! How the hell does CHILDREN OF THE CORN rate six freakin’ sequels? Of course, my reaction and enduring hate of COTC may be tainted by the circumstances around my first viewing. This was the first movie I convinced friends to go see in the theater that turned out to stink. I had a great record up until COTC but this bomb erased all the goodwill I had built up over years of smart choices. I actually apologized to everyone afterward for choosing a crappy movie and ruining the evening. High school was hell.

Back when Stephen King was screaming bloody murder about how much he hated Kubrick’s version of THE SHINING I always thought he should have reserved his ire for crap like this. Kubrick made a good film that King disliked for not being his book but this thing just sucks out loud. King got the chance to make his own version of The Shining as a TV mini-series years later and proved that filming the book was a bad idea. A horror tale shouldn’t bore you to sleep, Mr. King. But in a few weeks there is going to be a TV remake of CHILDREN written by King. Since the original story was very short maybe the new version won’t be long and dull. We can hope. But I suspect that this is a story that should never have been filmed. Not all Stephen King is great and cinematically he is still more miss than hit.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Worlds Unknown in local comic book shop

This past weekend I was in a Nashville comic book store with a young friend. While he was looking over the used video games my eye fell on the comics just beneath the PS3 shelves and I spotted the cover of a 1973 Marvel comic called Worlds Unknown. I’m a fan of the comics of the 1970s as those are the books I grew up reading and I love revisiting those four color dramas of my youth as well as reading the ones I missed. Growing up in rural Tennessee and Alabama meant that I was never able to get every issue of any comic no matter how much I loved it or how hard I tried to make to the few places that sold the beloved things. Marvel comics of that era are especially fun for me and when I get the chance to look through boxes of cheap old comics it is invariably that company's output I gravitate toward. But I had never seen a single copy of this particular title. In the box before me there were six different issues and as I flipped through the bagged and boarded books I realized that the short lived series featured adaptations of classic science fiction short stories. I was interested but not over much until I saw the cover of issue number 3. HOLY CRAP!

This issue contains an adaptation of Harry Bates’ story ‘Farewell to the Master’ that has now been filmed twice by Hollywood as THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL. How had I never heard of this comic book version until now? A while back I read Bates tale and re-watched the 1951 film in preparation for the new version’s theatrical release. At the time I thought I had covered the subject as well as I could but I clearly missed this. Of course I grabbed the issue immediately and happily paid the $2.99 asking price to take it home. I’d love to tell you if it’s any good or if it’s a close adaptation of the short story but I still haven’t pulled it from its comic bag. I just keep staring at the cover in wonder. I even found a scan of the first page online instead of reading the book right in front of me.

I’ll read it soon – really I will. But right now I’m just enjoying the fact that I can still find things of this vintage that I have no knowledge of at all. In an odd way it makes me very happy.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Caroline Munro

I've had a crush on Caroline Munro since my first adolescent viewing of THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD. For reasons best left unspoken I was thinking of Miss Munro today and those thoughts brought a smile to my face. I got to meet (and hug) her a few years ago at a Monster Bash convention in Pittsburgh and she is still a lovely and charming lady. I need to go to more conventions in the future.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

THE BATMAN directed by Mario Bava

From the wonderful Bat Blog comes this mock-up of a movie that sadly never existed or even had the chance to exist. I can only imagine the mad, colorful genius that would have saturated the screen. I'm just trying to picture Walken as Bruce Wayne.

Friday, September 18, 2009

TRICK 'R TREAT (2009) trailer

I'm getting very excited to to finally see this film when it comes out in a few weeks. Of course, I'll have to watch it on DVD because the geniuses at Warner Brothers can't figure out how to market a horror film set in October about Halloween. How damned stupid do you have to be to work in Warner's marketing department? IQ equivalent to pocket lint?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Prisoner comes to Blu-Ray

As reported at TV Shows On DVD -

"This October, A&E Home Entertainment has partnered with the Network DVD to deliver the definitive version of this definitive cult classic with THE PRISONER BLU-RAY EDITION. Featuring a complete high definition restoration, sound re-mix and hours of stunning extras never before seen stateside, the Blu-Ray ($99.95 SRP), streeting just prior to the premiere of the highly anticipated reinterpretation of THE PRISONER (starring James Caviezel and Ian McKellen) on AMC, is certain to continue to mesmerize viewing audiences and build on its place as one of television's most dramatic achievements."

I'm not sure how 'anticipated' the remake of this classic show really is but if that production caused this to happen it has served its purpose for me. No way I'll pay $100 but it'll go on my ever growing 'want' list.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Foreign Science Fiction Movie poster art


I have no idea if this amazing artwork was done specifically for the movie or was pulled from an old pulp magazine and recycled but it is a thing of beauty. Both of these pieces were painted by legendary Italian illustrator Sandro Symeon and you can see more of his work at this post on the excellent blog Pulp International. Vist the place- you'll be glad you did.


What an achingly great image for a film that really doesn't deserve it. Someone should craft a film worthy of this art. Wow!

Friday, September 11, 2009

OSS 117 films

I have not yet seen any of the older OSS 117 spy films but I've gotten my hands on one now. I plan to finally check it out this week (with luck) and I wonder if my love of the comedic take of the two recent movies will interfere. I kind of doubt it since I truly love the Euro-Spy films of the 60s but we'll see.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

DISTRICT B13 (2006)- Escape From Paris

The second film my buddy loaned me last week was the French Sci-fi action movie DISTRICT B13. I’d heard a lot of good things about this movie and WOO HOO did it live up to the hype. Brain bending in its pace it rushes along like an SUV without brakes careening off everything in sight until it slams into something solid enough to stop it. At these points the movie takes a breath, relates some story point and then darts off again with the camera right behind the acrobatic actors trying desperately to keep up. Produced by the mad Frenchman Luc Besson it is a blast from start to finish and since it clocks in at barely 80 minutes it is over almost before you know what to think about it. Packed with chases, gunfights, hand-to-hand combat, car crashes and Mexican standoffs the movie comes at you relentlessly. It’s like an overenthusiastic puppy determines to make you happy by doing anything it can to hold your attention. In less skilled hands this could have been a recipe for disaster but with DISTRICT B13 the filmmakers have managed to make a fun, silly, adrenaline shot of a movie that will put a smile on any action fan’s face.

The funniest thing about the movie is that it is a completely transparent remake of John Carpenter’s ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK crossed with bits of Walter Hill’s 48HRS but Besson still takes an original story credit. Does he think no one remembers those movies? The man has no shame but I wouldn’t want him any other way as long as he keeps pumping out stuff like this. Of course, the French film sacrifices some of the strengths of Carpenter’s film (atmosphere, characters, creepiness, etc.) to rush straight at you leaving the feeling that the story is a little too thin and quick, but if American remakes could be this inventive and entertaining I doubt Cinema fans would complain so much about Hollywood’s dearth of new ideas.

Monday, September 07, 2009

REVOLVER (2005) - Am I free man?

Two recent watches have been an eye opening experience for this old movie nut. Both were movies recommended to me by a friend and both were quite good- but both were highly derivative of other, older movies or television.

First up was Guy Ritchie’s 2005 film REVOLVER starring Jason Statham and Ray Liotta. At first glance it appears to be of a piece with Ritchie’s usual British crime tales such as SNATCH, LOCK STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS, and ROCK N ROLLA. But by the mid-point it becomes clear that there is much more than stylistic camera tricks, clever criminal plots and snappy dialog on the director’s mind this time out. Mysterious, nameless characters begin to call the shots, a never seen Mr. Big lurks behind the scenes and the motivation of the main character is called into question. And all the while games of chess are played and serious philosophical musings weave nicely into the narrative. By the end I smiled with twin realizations- I understand completely why a mass audience would hate REVOLVER and it struck me that what Ritchie was up to was destined to fail commercially no matter what. He has done what I would have though was unthinkable until recently- he has crafted his own version of Patrick McGoohan’s brilliant 1960s TV series THE PRISONER right down to the final revelation about Mr. Gold and Mr. Green. He’s thrown in a number of other ideas about wealth and its worship and then spiced it with a 21st century cinematic style but the movie’s debt to THE PRISONER is huge. I urge fans of the classic McGoohan series to check this movie out and judge for yourself. Even if you’ve never enjoyed Ritchie’s films before I suspect that this one has enough meat on its bones to have you chewing for a good long while. It will at least get you to thinking about your own view of the world and your place in it.

"The only way to get better at the game is to play someone who is better than you."

Film number two later......

Thursday, September 03, 2009

More STAR CRASH poster art

My love/hate relationship with STAR CRASH has been documented in other places along with my love of the various pieces of ad art generated for the film. I just discovered this one and BOY! This brings 'ripping off STAR WARS' to a new level for my favorite Italian sci-fi disaster. I feel like I may have seen this video artwork on a store shelf back in the 80s but I can't be sure. It is a thing of true beauty!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

What I Watched In August

August was a pretty darned good month for movies. Two spaghetti western classics on the big screen; two of the best movies of the summer in one weekend; INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS; and I finally caught up with SCARAMOUCHE- a film I wish I had watched years ago. If I hadn't been dealing with a three week period of workers tramping in and out of my apartment rebuilding a wall it would have been paradise.

ORPHAN (2009)- 7 (stylish horror effort a with nice twist)
A LONG RIDE FROM HELL (1968)- 6 (spaghetti western)
CRESCENDO (1970)- 7 (rare Hammer thriller)
FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (1965)- 9 (Leone on the big screen is a delight)
FIVE (1951)- 6 (Arch Oboler’s post-apocalyptic morality play)
IRONMASTER (1983)- 7 (rewatch) (entertaining barbarian adventure with some good ideas buried in the mix)
[REC] (2007)- 8 (Spanish horror film remade as QUARENTINE)
THE HURT LOCKER (2009)- 10 (simply brilliant action film)
DISTRICT 9 (2009)- 10 (fan-freaking-tastic sci-fi tale)
HELEN OF TROY (1955)- 5 (a bit stiff and stage-y but not bad)
EXECUTION (1968)- 3 (muddled, dull and sloppily produced spaghetti western)
COUNTERSPY MEETS SCOTLAND YARD (1950)- 5 (OK little programmer taken from a radio series)
BOSS NIGGER (1975)- 5 (not too great blaxploitation western that could have used a bigger budget)
TARZAN’S MAGIC FOUNTAIN (1949)- 5 (it would have been better minus the Cheetah shenanigans)
SCARAMOUCHE (1952)- 9 (excellent swashbuckler from a Sabatini novel)
INGLORIOUS BASTERDS (2009)- 8 (QT plays in a new sandbox and it is good)
UPPERSEVEN (1966)- 6 (Euro-spy fun with some nice fights and some silliness)
NIGHTMARE CASTLE (1965)- 8 (rewatch) (excellent Italian gothic)
THE 400 BLOWS (1959)- 8 (haunting and sad)
DIARY OF THE DEAD (2007)- 6 (rewatch)
THE LEGEND OF BLOOD CASTLE (1973)- 7 (Spanish gothic)
HONDO (1953)- 7 (I’d like to see this in 3D)
ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (1968)- 10 (rewatch)
LIANE, JUNGLE GODDESS (1956)- 5 (slow but not bad ‘white girl raised by natives’ tale- the nudity was a surprise)
THE CASE OF THE BLACK CAT (1936)- 6 (fast, fun Perry Mason story)