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Showing posts from June, 2016
I think that perhaps the undoing of Jaws III (1983) comes with its gimmick. This was supposed to be its drawing lure. Come see the great white shark in 3-D!!! That scene at the end where Jaws bursts through the control room window, threatening our heroes, the shattering glass couldn't look less effective. In fact, it carries the unfortunate label of "cheesy", certainly not the intent of the visual effects folks. Jaws does munch down on one of Gossett's control room tech operators. Chomp, chomp! So there was that. Oh, and what about those heroic dolphins!

Jaws 3-D (1983)

Gosh, it's hard to believe it has almost been a year since I last watched and reviewed this movie.  Review

Well, it was last August. I didn't particularly enjoy it all that much. It went over a bit better this time. It's just nothing too extraordinary. It isn't scary or intense enough. Still, I realized I liked one piece of acting from the oft-mocked  Gossett, Jr. It is the realization that the mother shark in the waters inside his park could ruin him, bring it all crashing down. He's mortified and defeated. It rings true. In the control room he sits in reflection of how it all torpedoed what should have been one of the best days of his life.

Seriously, how does Jake survive? The damn shark roars like the MGM Lion. I couldn't laugh as much as feel dismay. I'm going backwards through the Jaws quadrilogy. So I think it was actually a good thing I started with this The Revenge (1987). Interestingly, this film seems to ignore the third film completely. I plan to watch it not long after. I have already reviewed it last year, but if something rattles the cage, I might free it on the blog. Caine is a passenger in The Revenge. He was probably riding coach, but still Caine was thumbing the bills as they lent off that papery smell of green. The film hilariously posits the inclination that he was shark food. It even drags his plane into the water never to return. But, SURPRISE, he pops up out of the water all well and good, helping to try and steer a boat Gary's Ellen commandeered to go after Jaws. Jake rigs a gizmo that, when charged by Michael, will give Jaws a good jolt. It certainly pisses it off. No worries, Ellen wi…
You know, though, the film flirts with at least being moderately entertaining. It can't help itself, though. Case in point: Michael Brody (Lance Guest) decides against his better judgment to agree with fellow oceanography scientist, Jake (Mario Van Peebles), to study the great white shark navigating their warm Bahama waters. While in their underwater research vehicle, Michael is attacked by the shark. The vehicle is torn apart and Michael flee-swims to a wreckage on the floor. He escapes into it and actually is able to exit it with a port hole just small enough to stop the shark from pursuing him. So a suspenseful near fatality and Michael lives to tell about it. The film shows Michael guilt-stricken about discovering the shark but concealing its emergence from Ellen. He begins to wonder (believe?) that the shark is actually what Ellen said: that this was his brother's killer and now wants to claim the whole family. What does he do? He goes back into the water at the very sigh…
I'm not the first nor last to take a giant shit on Jaws: The Revenge (1987). But it has minor pleasantries among all the mildew. I enjoyed Amity (Martha's Vineyard) at Christmas, reminding us of how a busy beach front town operates. And the Bahamas, even if set during Christmas, feels all summer-y. Stunning is what it is. Then Van Peebles lays on the Jamaican on-and-off accent. Ocean scientists, Van Peebles and Lance Guest (the son of Lorraine Gary) are tagging conch shells and snails on a grant hoping to secure their PhD in oceanography. Guest, understandably, scoffs at the notion made by Gary that their Brody family is being pursued by a shark. Who wouldn't? Gary saddled with that kind of character baggage, how could she convincingly portray Ellen Brody as someone not considered off-her-rocker? She looks so seriously at Caine after a brief walk-and-conversation on the beach, as her granddaughter builds her sandcastle, insisting that the shark that killed her son will be …
"It waited all this time and came for him."

I'm not about to go on some apology tour for Jaws: the Revenge (1987). It was so far removed in quality from Spielberg's classic, it doesn't prove as a faint memory of what once was as much as a reminder that it couldn't get much worse. Inexplicable is a term that seems fitting for the plotting of this film. I pity Lorraine Gary who gets to be the star of a film in the Jaws franchise finally and it's this disaster. Caine has plenty of paycheck films in his career but he could continue to redeem himself, but this was Gary's moment to get a real substantial part in her own Jaws movie. Alas, this is what she was stuck with, bless her heart.

So the Great White Human Hunter Shark is stalking Brodys in revenge of their killing other sharks relative to it. Yes, that is the plot. The cast has good names in this turkey. The aforementioned Caine and Gary, Lance Guest (The Last Starfighter), Karen Young (9 1\2 Weeks),…

The Ultimate Shocker - Pulse

The general consensus of 80s genre film is that there was a lot of suck. I couldn't disagree more. There are lots of gems. One day I'll get on that write-up for The Sender (1982), starring Zeljko Ivanek and Kathryn Harrold. But there are some sleepers just waiting for new audiences, newer, younger faces. Speaking of young faces, Joey Lawrence is a kid star for this little sci-fi thriller about this "alien signal" (a kooky electrician calls it "the pulse") that finds its way into the home of his pop (Cliff De Young) and stepmom (Roxanne Hart). I really like Hart in this. She is genuinely affectionate and personable towards Lawrence and that translates well in her favor on-screen. Lawrence is thankfully not an annoying, irritating brat. Obviously he is bummed about his parents divorcing, but Hart appeals to his good graces as they spend time together. When the pulse uses the hot water heater to scald her in the shower, it is horrifying, amplified significant…
You get more than just eye candy beach and waves in The Shallows (2016). After riding some waves with a couple of local surfers, Lively chilled for a bit, eating an apple and calling her sis and pops. In the film, Lively pursued this locale because her mom surfed there in '91. Her mom died of cancer, inspiring Lively to go into medical school, for which she has nearly finished. Her dad was giving her a hard time about getting done and making a difference in memory of her mom.

Uh, oh. Lunch time.

This is what the actual bottom of her board looks like. A nice little bit of foreshadowing at the beginning has a kid on the beach passing up a broken piece of this surfboard washed ashore.

Daunting an image as any, this shows you how much of a predicament she's in.

A bird's eye view upon Lively and her only friend, a bird with a bum wing. Lively's blood remains on the bird throughout.

While a drunk who awoke from a stupor went to fetch a surfboard after snatching Lively's…
This is the kind of poster you might see before heading into a theater.

The bottom of the surfboard is inaccurate but the shot, certainly Jaws-inspired, gets the point across.

Although a poster for a foreign market, it shows the buoy and rock she calls a safe spot for a majority of the picture.

A poster showing the flare gun. Each poster indicates the threat Lively is up against.

The Shallows

I noticed a comment from a horror fan regarding how the just released The Shallows (2016) that he/she hated this type of movie. I wasn't sure why but asked to us horror fans what we thought--a message board question--I thought it was a very smart movie to make.

What I responded verbatim:

I think it is a very smart release. Summer. Hot lady in peril. Idyllic setting. Shark. Nothing else out there similar to it this year.

I felt that way the whole time I watched this in the theater on a sweltering summer afternoon on a Mississippi Saturday in June. I'm a fan of the shark movie. Syfy has put out so many stupid shark movies, the genre, popularized significantly by Jaws in the 70s (come on, how could I not mention it???), has been bludgeoned by mediocrity and a comical lack of restraint. Clones and mimicry have bred some bad movies over the years. The Shallows eschews any complexity in its plotting and distills from the genre its true essentials: an attractive setting, an attractive…
But I don't necessarily believe Murphy is as much in love with Electra as much as he is addicted to the crazy sex and her appetite for it. Let's face it : she was devoted to satisfying his lust and was seeking satisfaction herself.  It was what worked for them.  Sex was their drug.  How could Murphy ever get over the addiction?

There isn't just sex, though. There's conversation. Walks through Paris. Time spent together without hanky panky. But what fuses their relationship is the passionate fucking.

Gasper's True Love

My post from yesterday about Death Proof came from the experience in 2007 in the opening weekend in a theater full of energy. Grindhouse was that kind of epic where those of us fortunate to see the whole instead of movies split apart you just don't get much anymore. Mimicking an era but utilizing new age techniques was an interesting juxtaposition of old and new technology. When Planet Terror finished and we got a load of old school trailers capturing the spirit of slashers, monster movies, haunted house, and action mayhem; Death Proof was quite anticipated. What bag of tricks would QT equip his Grindhouse movie with? So when we are offered ladies and conversation, talking a lot about guys, it does kind of drag down expectations, I guess. Home video, though, can be a bit kinder. Pause breaks and time between one gabfest and another offers a less tiresome experience.

"Dialogue Heavy" is perhaps about as close to as identifiable a two words for Death Proof (or any QT joint) as could be thought of. Or is that "Lady Power"? Because Tarantino provided a major opportunity for a lot of actresses to enforce their will with his words and before his camera. Beautiful, charismatic women who lay style and smack on QT's script. QT always fills his screen with something that wows and his camera can identify faces at their most compelling. I like the Vanishing Point homage, certainly. Kurt Russell, before his crybaby tantrum, as Stuntman Mike, rode that cool and enigmatic part like a Joe Namath fur coat.

I think as a film--or as a standalone QT product--Death Proof isn't perhaps all that lousy. It has a lot of young adult conversation. A bar and diner are two specific settings where two sets of women take part in banter involving their love lives among other things. It is kind of like if "Dinner with Andre" were jazzed up w…
This above is the favorite of the Sleepless (2001) posters I found.

Piece from the train sequence. I think it gives you an idea of how Argento staged it in all that terror. No matter how much you run, most of the time in an Argento film, there's nowhere to escape.

Brutal English horn kill that sets the nasty tone of the movie.

Of course Argento opens with some full frontal. Yep, she's doomed!

Opening credits theme.
Watching Dario Argento's Sleepless (2001) last night I was taken aback by his return to absolute savagery.  I think we have reached a point where this kind of film is on the outs or already nearly over.  The kind of brutal violence towards women as seen in this might be just too politically incorrect for the audience of 2016. The scare or attempted building of dread is more important than the visceral spilling of blood and destruction of the human body.  No one destroys victims in the giallo like Argento. He has made brutality a near art form. The train sequence at the beginning is impactful if just because Argento sets it up similarly to Suspiria and others familiar to his fans.  The woman sees something she shouldn't have and is pursued by a madman.  In this film's case,  a prostitute grabs a blue zipper bag with incriminating evidence that would implicate a killer who paid for her favors.  Fleeing to a train she believes she's okay but he is on board with her.  She …
"You'll get rich here or you'll be killed. Juan De Dios tolls the bell again."

The little things that we take for granted in Leone’s movies, right? The clever dialogue. Like the “three/four” coffins and how “the stranger” is told over and over that the town is made for only scum: killers, smugglers, and thieves. The undertaker is the most employed man in the town. He has learned to take measurements of “newcomers” with his eyes and mind after looking them over immediately! Two families of crooks, one dealing in guns and ammunition, the other in drugs. Eastwood’s Man with No Name arrives right as the families appear to be on the verge of war. He is, at first, sees opportunity in being a man in the middle, reaping reward working for *both* parties. This is quite a dangerous position to take: pocketing cash at the expense of two families who want to eliminate each other.

Leone is a master at faces. When I watched High Plains Drifter (1973), Eastwood has his stranger rid…

Joe Kidd

While it might not be as pronounced on this blog, I'm a big fan of the Western. It dates back to an "Eastwood period" that started with the obvious Leone trilogy and went on from there. Then I went into the obvious "Wayne period" and once I gained access to Turner Classics, as the channel we know today, old westerns that hadn't been available to me were right there on the television screen, the tube before the flatscreen. High Plains Drifter, Hang 'Em High, and others were gobbled up by my enthusiastic desire to see every damn movie Eastwood had made. The Eastwood-Obama "talking chair" debacle at an GOP event aside, I've remained a devotee of Clint's work since the early 90s.

For a number of years, TBS (Turner Broadcasting) had a Clint marathon on Thanksgiving. You got to see 24 hours worth of his movies. You get them all the time when AMC decides to run a marathon of movies involving him. Encore Westerns, when able to show them, also…
The great mystery of High Plains Drifter (1973) is who is Eastwood and what business does he have with the denizens of Lago? There's a very significant moment early in the opening credits of the film where Eastwood's stranger immediately startles at the sound of a whip. Then later he "dreams" of the horrifying demise of Marshal Jim Duncan at the whips of Stacey and his boys. The Lago township look on, most of them not only aware of what is going on, but complicit in the marshal's death.

This final gasp, a last utterance that condemns the corrupt Lago township of their sins, truly informs us that few are absent blood on their hands. When Stacey and the boys crash the welcoming party the stranger had them prepare, their dismantling is justified.

I have to admit that when Eastwood's "stranger" grabs Marianna Hill's catty, saucy dame, grabbing her into the barn for some *rough sex*, like others I get very uncomfortable. She tells him no, even if she eventually concedes to the lust of the experience. This was not a typical "roll in the hay". Hill is presented as a woman of convenience, someone who moves to the next available man that would improve her situation. It's established that before Morg (Jack Ging), Hill was with the loathsome Stacey (Geoffrey Lewis, in one of his most memorable roles). She looks to better her situation whenever possible. Morg isn't above using her to setup Eastwood. But Hill is a victim like most in Lago of revenge...a restless spirit of vengeance who has come back to Lago to make them pay.

Hill is ferocious and full of spit and vinegar. You could imagine she is certainly interested in a man who can bring out the wildcat in her. She sees the stranger and takes it upo…
When Two Mules started I was taken aback by Siegel's opening credits. Accompanied by Morricone's whopping score, this is quite an experience. Then I later noticed this second closing scene of Eastwood's Unforgiven (1992), and it was staggering noticing how he was able to incorporate what he had accumulated from his influences into a shot that is just as impactful.
Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970) has Siegel channeling Leone, with a Budd Boetticher story, and Eastwood returning to the saddle. Is an Eastwood western an Eastwood western without having him lighting a stick of dynamite or clinching teeth on a cigarillo? A bridge's trestle is dynamited, an arrow wound needs gun powder cauterization, he still draws faster and hits his target (when drunk due to having to endure the cauterized wound, it still only took him three times before hitting dynamite that blew up the bridge), and even has a major contribution to Mexican revolution against the French! Shirley MacLaine is a beauty even while buried within a nun disguise. Her role is to dupe her "rescuer" into getting her safely some other place. He admits that he wants the French's treasure chest and this is her chance to capitalize on his services for her to help in the revolution. The real stars to me are Ennio Morricone's score and the breathtaking Mexico locations which r…
Back in the old VHS days, this was the picture quality. High Plains Drifter was on so I went to YouTubing and found this. Nowadays it is all prettied up in HD and Letterbox.

The marketing campaign, particularly the posters, for Love (2015) certainly was provocative. So the movie starting with Murphy and Electra masturbating each other shouldn't be of any surprise. It just starts up, and there they are...naked before you. Murphy, though, will also be naked emotionally and psychologically during the film. Electra is complicit in their sexual proclivities, married to a unique arrangement which could open their relationship to problems at some point. To see why Murphy's crazy about her, look no further than when Electra performs fellatio on him in what appears to be a parking garage or someplace. She is always looking into his eyes and the gaze carries this desire for approval, knowing that her work is satisfying. That kind of power, the dynamic of offering pleasure and getting it through how your partner totally responds--no faking or posturing--has it's own rewards. The enjoyment of giving fellatio derives from how the recipient reacts. She real…
Going into Gaspar Noé’s Love (2015), I didn’t really know what to expect, really, and at the onset this film isn’t a celebration of intense sexuality. The male lead of the film is miserable as he feels trapped in a relationship with a lovely blond due to an accidental pregnancy. He doesn’t love her, and she clearly, if subtly, provokes his misery (there’s a comment about his gut sticking out, and a pointed reference to “how babies are born”). He longs to just fuck. He wants pleasure without the unnecessary entrapment of a legit relationship. A broken condom and an ejaculation initiate this sudden change in the lead’s life. It interrupts his bacchanal. This is a major buzzkill which alters what has been a sexually adventure. It forewarns of what such unbridled sexual behavior might include. If anything, this development sets fire to his loss of Electra, the woman he truly, obsessively clings to. Ironically, it is their carefree sexual lifestyle that eventually encourages this new woman…
I was putting together some write-up pieces for some blog posts regarding Gaspar Noé's Love (2015), and I was startled at the use of Carpenter's "Night", from his "Lost Themes". I think I recall that his Halloween score was used in a porno in the 70s so I'm curious if this musical piece of his Lost Themes was "borrowed" or allowed. Whatever the case, seeing a sex scene with his score did kind of feel odd.

But that wasn't the end of it. Carpenter's early score to my all-time favorite film of his--Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)--is used when American Murphy and lover, Electra, visit a sex club! Below are a couple of shots.