Thursday, February 4, 2016

Dawn Of The Dead On The Big Screen

This happened five years ago. I guess I'm ready to talk about it now.

Before I start badmouthing Tampa Pitcher Show, let me just say that I do think it’s a cool place. Any old theater that still does The Rocky Horror Picture Show on a regular basis has something good going for it. My experience at their Dawn of the Dead screening was embarrassing and mostly terrible. You can probably write all of the following off as a weird old guy who should just the shut the hell up.

I read somewhere that there was going to be a screening of the original Dawn of the Dead (oh, there was a remake?) accompanied by zombie video games, zombie strippers (I didn’t expect this part to be true), and Mike Christopher AKA the Hare Krishna zombie from the 1978 film. I was really, really excited about this event. Seeing Dawn of the Dead -a movie that was hugely important to my development as a horror movie fan- on the big screen was paramount. Of course, I was headed for disaster.

Before we get to the screening, let me share this little story. My first encounter with this classic film was due to this stuttering kid at our school. Seemed like a nice enough chap so I would stand up for him when my loser classmates would make fun of his speech impediment. This kid was way into horror movies or so he professed and I was impressed as hell by his Dawn of the Dead t-shirt. It featured a person's exploding head.

When I asked this kid about what was going on with his t-shirt, he told me that in Dawn of the Dead there were all these zombies. Check! He then told me that the figure on his t-shirt was the king zombie. Um... wait a second. He related to me how bullets wouldn't stop this creature and that the heroes had to use a rocket launcher to destroy it. That's how its head exploded. Holy shit! I wish Dawn of the Dead had that in it! A couple of years later, when I finally watched Dawn of the Dead, I remembered that kid and just felt kind of stupid. In order to make up for his stuttering, he was just a bold faced liar who’d probably never even seen the dang film.

Okay, back to 2010. It was a Saturday night in early January and it was a friggin’ cold night in Tampa. I know what you’re saying, Florida gets cold? It does and when it does, us thin-blooded Floridians are screwed. Lows in the 30s might be nothing to a lot of people but it feels like the end of the world to us keepin’ it real in the dong-shaped state. But more about that later.

I showed up too early to Tampa Pitcher Show due to my unbearable excitement. The ticket window was closed so I went inside. Sherlock Holmes (the one with Harry Connick Jr. and Rufus Sewell) was still playing on their only screen so I had to wait in the lobby for a while. I got something to eat and a soda. There were some teens playing zombie themed video games on televisions around. I didn’t know anybody so I just kind of watched people playing for a while. At some point, the ticket window was open so I went outside and got in line to pay admission.

Right in front of me in line were these two odd dudes. I’m pretty sure they were a couple and it was a May-December thing. The younger guy was skittish as shit and I swear he looked at me about 90 times before he urged his partner to look at me. His request was so urgent that when the older dude turned to look at me, he was immediately confused. He gave his boyfriend a glare as if to say, ‘what the fuck is wrong with you?’ Maybe the younger guy thought I was cute or especially ugly or I had piss stains on my pants, who knows?

When I got back inside, Sherlock Holmes was still playing. The time for the event to start had already passed and one of the employees told me that the previous film had started late. For the next half hour, I sat and watched people playing video games some more. People started showing up dressed as zombie hunters with Nerf guns and plastic swords. I attempted to talk to some folks but I got the cold shoulder. Something was just wrong.

Finally, the auditorium emptied out and I got to go inside. A wave of nostalgia hit me like a ton of bricks. The cheap furniture and the garbage carpeting brought me back to every dollar theater I’d ever set foot in. I felt like I was right at home. Don’t worry, it didn’t last long. I marched right up front to a table, took off my jacket, and flopped down in a chair, giddy with excitement.

Someone rolled out a laptop and a projector and my heart sunk. No fucking way were they going to show Dawn of the Dead with a tiny little projector when they had this huge screen. The urge to bolt was immediately quelled when a bunch of unfunny zombie memes started showing up on the screen. Whew, I thought, that was a close call.

So while these terrible zero cultural farts are just rolling along through a Windows slide show of doom and my intelligence is being zapped from my brain, I notice that I’m sitting alone. Everyone at the theater except for me is sitting in the back. I’m the only person who appears to have arrived alone and the only one who doesn’t know everyone else. That’s when it hit me, I had stumbled into a clique-hole. The Rocky Horror kids wanted nothing to do with me! I was just some uncool dude who was crashing their party. Suddenly, I was very depressed and embarrassed for myself. My body felt as heavy as a stone while a steamroller of social anxiety crushed me down into the filthy carpet.

Then the show started. Some ghoulish rock music kicked in and the zombie strippers came out to strut their stuff. Wow, there really is truth in advertising! Girls in zombie makeup, fishnets, frilly panties, strategically placed electrical tape, and very little else started doing their act. It wasn’t just burlesque bouncing either, they actually had a victim whose guts they tore out. I had to applaud. This was good.

Once the strippers had done their bit, it was time for Mike Christopher to give a little speech. He seemed like a nice guy. He complained about how cold it was in Florida and that got a laugh. It would probably be 80 degrees in a few days. That’s what makes all of us psychotic around here. When he was done, I should have left. I’m telling you, my friends, I should have walked out the fucking door.

So the film starts. They were indeed using the laptop and the tiny projector. This resulted in Dawn of the Dead taking up less than 20% of the available screen. The debate in my mind went like this: Is this an actual print of the film? Hell no. How important is that to me? Moderately. Is this bigger than my TV at home? Yes. Then fine, I’ll stay.

Around this time, I noticed that I needed to put my jacket back on. Tampa Pitcher Show was probably trying to save money by not turning the heat on. The temperature inside the place was starting to plummet. I had a wool cap in the pocket of my jacket. I took that out and put it on. Then I zipped up my jacket. Then I had to put my hands in my pockets. Holy shit, I was cold. Really, really cold.

Then the ‘your virus detection software is out of date’ window popped up over George Romero’s classic with a loud ding that echoed through the theater. My jaw dropped. That’s right, whoever owned the laptop in question was a complete asshole who didn’t know his/her ass from a hole in the ground. I felt so stupid for sticking through this shit show that my urge to weep or start screeching at the top of my lungs in venomous rage was deflated. I just sat there and took it like a grownup, a thoroughly disappointed grownup.

When the film ended, I got up to leave with nothing in my heart but a feeling of profound foolishness and a love for Dawn of the Dead that no crappy night out (and no shite remake) can shake. It was freezing outside. I ran to the car and hopped in. As the heat failed and only cold air was blowing out, I started laughing. It was after 2 in the morning, I was cold as balls, and I’d just wasted 4 hours of my life. I drove home shivering and making a pact with myself to never return to Tampa Pitcher Show ever again.

So in the end, Dawn of the Dead still haunts me. The film is urgently important in my heart. Seeing it when I was 13 and seeing it at that abominable screening were the same. The setting didn't matter. I was creeped out and depressed by the film. Even when I was a kid, it made me morose and I loved it. I had never felt that way from a movie before. It made me listless and thoroughly freaked me out the more I thought about it. The world looked bent, distorted and yet somehow even more real afterward. This is what good horror movies do. Tampa Pitcher Show, leave me alone. I don't want to talk to you right now.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Films I Watched - January 2016

I haven't been tracking my films that I've watched for a long time. I thought it might be fun (for me) to get back into the habit.

Films marked with a * are first time viewings!

Here we go!

January 2016

Count Dracula (BBC)*
The Last Circus*
The Woman in the Window*
Godzilla 2000*
Big Trouble in Little China
The Amazing Spider-Man
Green Lantern
Over Your Dead Body*
The Lost Boys
Ex Machina*
When Marnie was There*
The Gift*
Zorro: The Gay Blade
Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown
Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown
Godzilla: Final Wars*
Godzilla (2014)
The Loreley's Grasp
The Runaways*
Withnail & I*
The Black Cat (1981)
Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key
The Church
Total Recall (2012)*
Yakuza Apocalypse*
Pump Up the Volume
The Dead Pit
Without Warning
Grease 2
The Guardians of the Galaxy
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
Gone Girl*
The Final Girls*
A Thousand Clowns
Voice without a Shadow*
Avengers: Age of Ultron
The Remains of the Day*
Satan's Children*
Seven Bloodstained Orchids
The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue
Terror (1978)
Red Pier*
The Rambling Guitarist*
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains

That's it! I wonder what I'll watch in February.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Nude Episodes Of The Podcast!

Sometimes we podcast. Okay, not sometimes! Check out the newness right here.

Do you like oldies? I do too! Visit the archives for the old Shirley.

In related news, I was also lucky enough to be asked to guest host on the mighty The Podcast Under the Stairs. Duncan is a rad dude. He and I talked about Lucio Fulci's The Black Cat and Sergio Martino's Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key. Check out that fine episode with me right here.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Franco Friday #60 - Shane's Franco Marathon!

I like Shane Migliavacca. He's a rad duder. Check out his blog right now! Just when you thought that the Franco Friday series was dead, Shane swoops in and saves the day. He watched 12 films by Old Jess and documented his journey. Check it out and then check out his blog again because like I previously stated, he's a rad duder. -Richard

The crazy world of Jess Franco. Really there's nothing like it. His movies are filled with beautiful women, weird dialogue and lots of smooth jazz. I wandered into the world of Franco back in the '90's. First place I remember hearing about him was in Fangoria magazine. But I hadn't seen any of his movies. Back then I'd get together with some of my friends and we'd rent a bunch of crazy ass films on VHS. On one of these movie nights I rented Oasis of The Zombies. That was a mistake. We hated it. The tape was grainy, the zombies kind of sucked and not much happens in the movie. This was the first time I saw one of his films. I'm surprised it wasn't the last. Jump ahead to the early 2000's.

Thanks to the magic of DVD I was getting to experience movies I'd been only able to read about. Mondo Macabro released Franco's Diabolical Doctor 'Z'. On a whim I picked it up. I loved the film's crazy mad science and great visuals. Ever since then the amount of Jess Franco films in my collection has been growing. I'd been hoping to do a marathon of his movies when the time was right. This year my collection finally got to the point where I felt I had a nice selection. What follows is my three day descent into a mad free form Jess Franco jazz nightmare.

Day 1

1) Marquis de Sade's Justine (1969)

We get some kooky Klaus Kinski interludes as Marquis de Sade himself. Romina Power's acting is stiff as a board but she's nice on the eyes. Her big hat isn't though. Justine bounces around from one sleazy character to the next. Almost all of them trying to tempt her to the darkside. There's one hunky dude she meets that seems okay. When Jack Palance shows up this movie goes into crazy overdrive. Film meanders quite a bit. There's a few slow spots in Justine's journy. It's really great looking. And there's plenty of over the top characters to keep your interest from totally waning.

2) The Awful Dr. Orlof (1962)

Things start a little slow but then Morpho shows up and all is right with the world. Well, except for the Inspector character. He just sucks! Worlds worst detective. Just open your girlfriend's damn note already and solve the case man! This is Franco doing classic monster movies. I like it. Seen this film several times. I grow to enjoy it more each time. If your smart and not me this should be your gateway film into Franco land.

3) Golden Temple Amazons (1986)

From the directors Alain Payet and an uncredited Jess Franco comes a film full of bewbies. Lots and lots of bewbies. There's also some real manly dude with a beard. Did I mention bewbies? The film is set in Africa but all the Amazons are all tall blonde women. Go figure. Somebody went crazy with the nature footage here. Also bewbies.

4) Diamonds of Kilimandjaro (1983)

I don't know why they spelled it like that. Another Franco co-directed jungle pic. Hilariously atrocious dubbing in this sucker. The same manly beard guy is in this one too. You sir are great. There's some diamond plot but really who cares? It's all about how godawful this film is. Too bad there's some stock footage animal killing thrown in. Not cool.

5) Bloody Moon (1981)

Bloody Moon, where have you been? How come we didn't meet sooner? This film is so '80's and I love it. Oh that funky score is amazing! The old woman in this film is one bitter bitch. Shut up old lady. This is one hot language school. Full of '80's babes. Everybody's pants are high and everything is bedazzled. The character of Paco is so over the top and wrong. You have to see him eating or driving. It's amazing to behold. There's sadly some snake violence on display here. The kills are fairly bloody. Also there's full moon breast baring.

Day 2

6) Jack the Ripper (1976)

The amazing Klaus Kinski ladies and germs! He's back to kick off day two! This is Dr. Orloff sans Morpho. Could have used him here. Oh puss close ups are never cool. Lina Romay singing is hilarious. It's a highlight of the film which is otherwise kind of depressing. This was my second ever Jess Franco film. I remember renting it on VHS expecting a slasher. So there's some nostalgia here for me.It's historically inaccurate as far as Jack the Ripper films go. So don't expect facts Jack.

7) Ilsa, the Wicked Warden (1977)

This movie needs to come with a built in shower. The sleaze oozes from the screen. It's nicely filmed sleaze though. The story concerns a missing woman and her not to bright sister. The sister gets herself intentionally sent to to a jungle prison in search of her missing sibling. You have to admire Lina Romay. She didn't mind getting naked.

8) Eugenie (1970)

This movie is tripping balls. Bruno Nicolai's score is excellent. Did anybody tell Chris Lee what was going on? Or did he just wander onto the set? God bless Jess Franco for letting Paul Muller make out with hot chicks. The evil brother dude is really giving that rocking chair a workout. Calm it down man. Man that ending is a real twisty kick in the teeth. It's very Game of Thrones with all the double crossing and murder. Really enjoyed the heck out of this one.

Day 3

9) Kiss Me Monster (1969)

This here is one of my favorite Franco flicks. It's just pure campy, crazy fun. A real groovy Eurospy spoof. Leads Janine Reynaud & Rosanna Yanni appear to be having a blast. Sexy spies versus mad scientists with plenty of jazz thrown in. What's not to love here?

10) Oasis of the Zombies (1982)

Didn't get any better. There's long stretches of nothing going on. Perfect to doze off to. The best part of the film besides the zombie attacks is the flashback scene. Where we're treated to a really goofy battle between British and German during WWII. So how did the zombies from WWII get those mod '80's haircuts?

11) A Virgin Among the Living Dead (1973)

If I had to pick a favorite Franco film, Virgin would be in the running. It's a beautiful haunting nightmare of a movie. There's another great Bruno Nicolai in this one. That Christina von Blanc is stunning. And it's great to see the always reliable Howard Vernon. There's Paul Muller again. But he doesn't score any hot chick make out scenes in this one. The Queen of the Night is creepy as hell. That ending. Is it a dream? Some sort of weird time loop? Or are they in hell? What ever the case it's amazing.

12) Venus in Furs (1969)

It all starts in Istanbul not Constantinople. Franco's noir masterpiece. This is another one that I pick for my favorite Franco film. Every shot is amazing. The beatnik dialogue can be kind of goofy at times. But it adds to the film's charm for me. Good old Klaus makes another appearance in the marathon. The film is surreal as hell. You'd think maybe it would meander. But it never does. It moves along at a steady pace. If there was one Franco film you should watch, it's this one.

So there you go. What a weird movie marathon. There where some bombs in there. I was honestly a little scared how this one would turn out. But it was a lot of fun. There was a dream like quality to the whole thing that made going back to the real world kind of sad. There's so many Franco films I have yet to see. I'd love to do another one some day.

-Shane Migliavacca

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Fulci on the Big Screen!

In the fall of 2011, I saw on some website or other that Lucio Fulci’s Zombi 2 (1979) was going to be making the rounds at theaters around the country. This news flipped me the fuck out. The thought of seeing The Fulch on the big screen really had me chomping at the bit. The closest that Fulci’s classic was playing to LeEtta and I was in St. Petersburg at a place I didn’t even know existed called the Beach Theatre (now closed, apparently). It was our anniversary so we decided to take a couple days off and stay at a hotel near the theater as well as attend the screening.

We arrived at the Beach Theatre about 5 hours early for the show just so I could scope the place out. I was a nervous wreck just expecting the whole night to be a disaster so this was the only way I could calm down with so long to wait for the movie. Then LeEtta found a little German restaurant that was completely empty save for us. The sole waitress was really confused by our presence and handed us the menus with much trepidation. We made her at ease once we started ordering some of the more traditional German items off the menu. The poor thing was probably hoping we’d bail after getting a look at the selections. We had a great time.

Even after eating our scrumptious meal, there was still a lot of time before the movie so we walked around St. Pete and hit up an ice cream store as it was closing. Outside the theater, I saw a guy in a horror movie t-shirt and started up a convo with him. He was a really nice guy and I feel kind of bad because I can’t recall his name. Sorry, duder. Message me!

When it was time for the film to start, we went in and I was a little bummed that the whole event wasn’t better attended. Don’t get me wrong, the Beach Theatre (which opened in 1940) couldn’t have held a massive crowd but only about half of the seats in the theater were filled. We picked our seats and we were immediately struck at what terrible shape they were in. The armrest between LeEtta and I broke off and she spent some time trying to put it back into place.

The moment that made me realize that the year was 2011 and not 1979 was when the movie started on the big screen but it was over a minute into the film. The projectionist tried to start the film over and that’s when the Blu-ray player’s menu flashed on the screen. My heart sunk. I guess you could call me na├»ve but I was pretty shocked that I was going to be seeing Zombi 2 from a goddamn Blu-ray and not on actual film. All bitching aside, the movie looked AMAZING on the big screen and this is one of the moments that convinced me to buy my first Blu-ray player.

The crowd was pretty sedate. No one dressed up like zombies and no one came in smoking pipes full of maggots or anything. There was one guy who showed up drunk with his lady friend. He was tall and lanky and made a big public display of affection for his poor companion as though someone there was questioning his sexuality. They served beer at the Beach Theatre and he was partaking.

When the big splinter to the eye scene happened, this loud goofus started cheering and drunkenly clapping. He was actually offended when he looked around and no one else was going along with him. It just wasn’t the crowd for that and I didn’t hold that against him. Before the end of this movie, he had to leave very quickly nearly falling over several times while his girlfriend ran alongside trying to steady him. I’m probably lucky that he didn’t puke or fall right on top of me.

When all is said and done, seeing Zombi 2 on a big screen with a modest-sized crowd was a huge deal even taking my minor complaints into account. Much like my lame Dawn of the Dead experience, the use of a DVD or Blu-ray for a film screening seemed like this huge letdown at first. But you know what? The power of the films I love transcend millennial disappointment. The miasma of horror that Fulci has shoved into the eye sockets of film audiences can be delivered by a laser very efficiently.

Here's my old (and 50 pounds heavier) vlog about the event.

Monday, January 4, 2016

H!TITDS #92 - Anthropophagus

Welcome to the 2016 version of Hello! This is the Doomed Show. It's completely different from the obviously inferior 2015 version. It might sound the same to your ears but judge not lest ye be judged! Okay, so we recorded some episodes, I edited them, and here are the results. There's more good stuff to come, folks! Thanks for sticking with us this long.


Get them archives all up in your ear, dawg.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

H!TITDS #91 - Black Christmas

Hiya. Here is the most recent episode of the show. My pal Eric Grubbs and I talk about Black Christmas from 1974 and we throw a bone to the remake (which I love, Eric not so much). There was some technical issues so this episode sounds a little poopy on my end but the convo is solid. This is the last episode of 2015 so enjoy it, my friends. Hey, we released 30 frickin' episodes this year! Wut? Pretty amazing.

Listen here! And dig on the archives right here!

Get more Eric here and here. You know you wanna!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Hello! This is the Doomed Show Episodes 89 and 90

Wow. Episode 100 ain't that far off, my friends. That is crazy. Here's the two most recent bouts of insanity. Listen here!

Check out the archive for the oldies.

Monday, December 7, 2015