Friday, December 30, 2011

1976 EXTRAVAGANZA!!

Whoa! An extravaganza? How does that happen? Well, I'll tell you! It happened that I watched a whole bunch of 1976 flicks and forgot to write about them. Okay, I didn't forget but I thought if I could do something important for the children of tomorrow. Shit, that isn't true either. Somebody's gotta kill this theme month and it might as well be me, duders. So here I am, dropping some last minute 76yness on ya!



I first heard about Breaking Point over at Bloody Pit of Rod and boy oh boy, I wish I hadn't. Apparently, big macho action movies weren't director Bob Clark's specialty. The film sports nearly constant logic problems, overacting from every member of the very irritating cast, and a layer of cheese so thick that the film is just freakin' ripe. The only things that work for Breaking Point are its excellent lighting and well staged action setpieces. Bo Svenson does get to kick a little ass but it's not enough to save this ultimately unsatisfying piece of dumb schlock. And I love schlock!



Every time I think I know what Mr. Brian De Palma has in store for me, I get totally suckered in and blown away. Notice that in that sentence there were the words "suck" and "blow"? Okay, don't notice that! I really thought I knew where Obsession was going but I'm glad I was wrong and I'm very glad to be giving De Palma more chances. You see, I think that several of his films are overrated. Sisters, Carrie, Blowout, and even Dressed to Kill have left me feeling empty and totally put off at one time or another. Obsession made me realize that I have the guy all wrong and need to reevaluate pretty much everything. This film is sumptuously filmed and even Cliff Robertson is good. One more thing: the score by Bernard Herrmann is astonishing, astounding, and awesomiffinizing!



Speaking of directors surprising me, I also checked out Roman Polanski's The Tenant. Much like my feelings on De Palma, I find that most of Polanski's films just don't do it for me. This grotesque piece of paranoia is very, very good. Even though one of those 100 Scariest Horror Movie Moments shows ruined the best surprise in this film for me, I still found a great deal to dig into with The Tenant. If phrases like "Kafka-esque" and "nightmarishly insane" describe your idea of fine entertainment, then check out this film immediately. Oh and it's funny too.



I had high hopes for Image of Death, an obscure Australian thriller. Other than the fact that I am obsessed with big-eyed Cathey Paine (Helter Skelter), I knew zilch about this film when the VHS arrived in my mailbox. And Cathey Paine is quite good in this probably made-for-TV flick but the script is awful. The writers insult their audience by explaining every single tiny nuance of the plot in great detail just to fill up its short running time. Instead of an unknown gem, I found a total dud that deserves to stay forgotten. In order to reach other markets, there are no Australians in this. Everyone has either an American or a British accent. Lame!



When a film like MASH mixes comedy with tragedy, it works perfectly. It's because Robert Altman is a demented genius. When a film like Mother, Jugs & Speed mixes comedy with tragedy, the viewer ends up despising the film. It's because it was directed by Peter Yates, the guy who directed Krull. There are some fun, un-politically correct, and tasteless times to be had here but this film thinks it's pretty fucking clever and it's not. Bill Cosby is awesome and Larry Hagman is sleazy. I'm not sure what else to say other than I do applaud the director for taking chances with the tonal shifts. Look for the super cute Toni Basil. Yup, she's in this one.



Director Mario Caiano delivers a pretty solid crime film with Milano Violenta. It's got the funky soundtrack, the bad dubbing, the brutal violence, the unlikable characters, and just about everything else one might expect from this sub-genre. Just a warning, the film does slow down in the middle quite a bit but makes up for it with some more ass kicking action near the end. There isn't much that separates Milano Violenta from the pack (other than some soft focus cinematography and a somewhat strange tone) but it's worth checking out.



When it comes to the phrase: "What the hell is this?", Crypt of Dark Secrets is especially special. This silly shit has some hilariously delivered and idiotic dialog and an EXTREMELY NAKED witch in it. Every scene is awkward and nearly every actor has sunstroke or malaria or something. Whatever, this movie is pure fun and is filled with totally crappy magic that must be seen to be believed. If you can stay awake through this 71 minute marvel, it's probably because you are laughing your ass off at it's inept genius.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

1976: Helter Skelter



Helter Skelter
Directed by Tom Gries
1976
Starring George DiCenzo, Steve Railsback, Nancy Wolfe, Marilyn Burns, Christina Hart, Cathey Paine

In 1969, America faced its greatest crisis: godless, dirty-faced, baby-makin' hippie scum were taking over the country. Their leader, Charles Manson AKA Jesus Christ, had risen to power by undermining good, strong United States of American values! In an unprecedented event, Manson and then president Richard Nixon, got oiled up and sparred for the first of many shirtless wrestling matches. Merry Christmas, everybody! Enjoy the screenshots!











Tuesday, December 20, 2011

There Are Other Years Besides 1976 (Apparently)

Hey y'all, I have a wife. She was born in 1979.

Here are some of the films released in that year which I am grateful for.

Monday, December 19, 2011

1976: A Star is Born



A Star is Born
Directed by Frank Pierson
1976
Barbra Streisand, Kris Kristofferson, Gary Busey, Oliver Clark, Venetta Fields, Clydie King
139 minutes

Kris Kristofferson plays Eric Clapton, a washed up rock and roll star playing to stadiums of disappointed fans every night. His roadie and bestest pal, Bobbie Ritchie (Gary Busey), keeps Eric all fucked up on coke and booze and the tour is going to shit. One night, Eric stumbles into a bar where he sees a woman performing some horrible fucking songs. The woman's name is Bette Midler and she's played by Barbra Streisand. Eric discovers Bette, seduces her and then gets her career started by forcing her to debut at a benefit for Native Americans. There's a joke there somewhere. How about this: "Haven't they suffered enough?"

Eric and Bette get married and they make love and stuff. She tries to get him to clean up his act. Oh shit, I forgot the motorcycle thing. Eric gets shitfaced at a stadium gig and drives a motorcycle off the stage. It's pretty funny. Anyway, after Bette becomes a bigger star than Eric, he gets all jealous and stuff. Then he fucks a groupie -well, not really; he was too drunk to get it up -and Bette smacks him and bites his lip. Then he dies in a car accident and she stages a concert in his honor. Or whatever. Hey, Robert Englund is in this!



I first encountered A Star is Born when I was a kid. My parents rented it when it came out on VHS. While it was playing on our old TV, my parents took out sharp knives and stabbed me repeatedly while it was playing. Worse than that, my mom owned a copy of the soundtrack on LP. And I remember very, very well that a naked Barbra and a naked Kristofferson holding each other was about the least sexy thing ever.

The first thing you learn from A Star is Born is that all fans of rock and roll music are idiots, the lowest common denominator. Scum. Okay, we've got that out of the way. Next thing you learn is that fans of motion pictures are even lower than rock fans. The fact that this shitbag pus-spewing visual rape was the second highest grossing film of the year in 1976 -THE YEAR I WAS BORN!- is baffling. Forget disco and bell bottom jeans, this is why the seventies sucked.

One of the worst aspects of the film, and I'm not joking here, is Barbra Streisand's dang afro perm thingie. She seriously looks like Barry Manilow. And when you have a love scene where one person looks like Barry Manilow and the other person looks a lot like Kris Kristofferson because it happens to be Kris Kristofferson, well... It could be like the worst gay celebrity fan fiction ever written. But other than that very rare instance, it's just ugly.

When Gary Busey is the voice of reason in a film, shit just got real, know what I'm sayin'? He provides Kristofferson with lots of coke but never takes any himself. What a freakin' prick! If you're at a concert and Busey offers you something he won't snort, smack it out of his hand! Smack it and run like a motherfucker! Jeez, how many frowning faces can I draw on these notes I'm taking?

Barbra Streisand and rock and roll go together like those two great tastes... What were they? Oh yeah, peanut butter and kerosene. The songs are excruciating. And not just Streisand's shite either. The garbage they wrote for Kristofferson is just that. If this had been meant to be a fun, light movie where it was all tongue in cheek or whatever, I would feel awfully silly complaining about it. But no, this shit is meant to be straight and good. More cocaine anyone?

Here are some lyrics for you:

I want to learn what I life is for
I don't want much, I just want more


and later:

Love; soft as an easy chair
Love; fresh as the morning air


This is a musical, damn it! The songs are SUPPOSED TO BE FUCKING GOOD! The whole songwriting process and then the recording process scenes are total crap. Everything is insanely awkward and just painful to sit through. But I would pay $80 million to get those scenes back after not one but two horseback riding scenes and then the bathtub scene. Seeing Barbra put makeup on Kris in the bathtub is pure unadulterated cinematic agony.

So anyway, I did this little equation:

B-A-R-B-R-A S-T-R-E-I-S-A-N-D = 19 LETTERS
19 DIVIDED BY 3 = 6
666 = SATAN!

Don't believe me? Check this out: The last 10 minutes of this movie is Streisand singing. One camera. On her. For the rest of the movie. One fucking shot. SHIT! SHIIIIIIT! A Star is Born is fucking terrible and easily one of the most astonishingly painful movies I've ever sat through. But then again, I'd rather watch this again than watch Rocky ever again. There are some things that are just too horrible to contemplate.


"Layluhhhhh!"


Heh heh. Death rock.


"Then the Cadillac, it puttered back into the graveyard!"


"In your face Petey Frampton!"


"Track marks."


Barry Manilow stuns another audience.


This pushed Superman back to '78.


Barry. Fucking. Manilow.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wednesday Ramble: Pimpin' Ain't Not Isn't Easy



I have watched Taxi Driver countless times. I don't relate to the film other than I used to work nights and I have caused a public scene over a girl before. (There was less bloodshed but more abstract humiliation. But that's another story.) One of my best cinematic memories is catching an old beat up print of Taxi Driver at a midnight screening back in 1998. Talk about revelatory. I was sitting there in a real theater with my friend Mike Fusco, watching a film from my birth year, and seeing scenes that I swear weren't on my VHS dub. Of course, there wasn't anything actually different in the print, I was just overwhelmed by the experience and noticing details that a full frame VHS copy just can't express.

One scene that struck me as odd is when Sport The Pimp AKA Matthew (played by Harvey Keitel) is convincing Iris The Underage Ho (Jodie Foster) not to leave him. He puts on some nauseating love-jazz record and sweet talks her into submission. Ew ugh blargh. Aside from being insanely disturbing, the scene feels almost unnecessary to me. Who is this scene for? Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore fans? I guess there had to be SOMETHING to show what hold he had over Iris.

If you think about it, I guess any scene that doesn't involve Travis Bickle (played by Robert De Niro) is kind of pointless. We get to see Albert Brooks and Cybil Shepherd goofing around but I'm wondering if the movie be better if we only ever saw things from Bickle's perspective. But then again, maybe we need some normalcy when the whole fucking world is totally nuts.

I guess that I'm kind of talking myself into accepting the Sport/Iris scene. We see many sides of Iris. We see the streetwalker persona which is probably one of the most freakish things ever committed to film due to Foster's young age. The fact that Sport is charging $15 for 15 minutes and $25 for half an hour is ludicrous. Maybe the economy really was that bad but come on! Those are just insultingly low prices.

Later we see her funny, relaxed side in the diner scene with Bickle. Like OMG, she's a real kid! Next, we see her "my universe is crumbling" face when Bickle confronts her about getting out of the prostitute biz in the same diner scene. Then Sport talks her down and we see something important which I'll get to in a moment. And lastly, we see the shit-scared and most human of all: the "Iris sees some scumbag's head blown off and feels bad about it" face.

So what's important about Iris and Sport's "tender" scene is seeing the pure rapture on Iris's face when she's in her pimp's arms. The guy is clearly a sophisticated manipulator who has this poor girl wrapped around his demonic finger (with Satan's Harelip #666 Nail Polish). I guess this hook could have been expressed in some other way but the scene works. We see that Iris is a human being in the ultra-wrong place at the supremely wrong time. Tell Scorsese he can leave it in there.


In remembrance of Sport The Pimp AKA Matthew. 19??-1976







Tuesday, December 13, 2011

1976? Nope, It's 1981 Birth Year Guest Blog!

As some of you may know, 1976 isn't year round all the time because sometimes it's a different year. Aaron from the totally awesome and insanely superior to all other blogs, The Death Rattle, is here to let us wallow in his afterbirth for today. That's right, Aaron was born in 1981 which makes him way older than me. Take it away, duder.

Not to brag or anything, but 1981 was a pretty awesome year for movies. On the other hand, being born in 1981 makes me an old fuck. 1) I decided to go with my favorite genre films from my birth year as opposed to favorite overall films, 2) Richard is gonna hate me for not including HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, and 3) I went from putting together a top five to submitting a top six list, simply because I couldn't bring myself to leave out...



#6 THE EVIL DEAD - One of the best indie DIY horror films ever made. EVIL DEAD II understandably gets all the love for essentially being a more solid, entertaining version of the first film, but I really admire the first EVIL DEAD because of how absurd and gory it is. I've said it plenty of times before and I'll say it again: EVIL DEAD is so gory, even the fucking house bleeds.



#5 AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON - It's still amazing to me that two of the most important werewolf films next to Universal's WOLF MAN were released the same year: John Landis's AMERICAN WEREWOLF and Joe Dante's THE HOWLING. For years THE HOWLING has always been my favorite of the two because it's the one that reminds me the most of my childhood; it was one of the first movies to scare the shit out of me, and I have more of a nostalgic attachment to it. As the years go by, however, it becomes clearer and clearer to me that AMERICAN WEREWOLF is the more superior of the two.



#4 ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK - John Carpenter in his prime. When watching a classic such as ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, it's easy to forget that Carpenter made one of the greatest slashers ever made just a couple of years earlier and would go on to make an essential creature feature only one year later. There's not much to say about this film that hasn't already be said, but to me it epitomizes what an action-adventure film should be. It also features one of my favortie Kurt Russell performances for obvious reasons.



#3 FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 - The FRIDAY THE 13TH series is my favorite horror franchise of all time, and the second installment of the series always has been and always will be my favorite of the bunch. My love for this film is deeper than just how much it entertains me; it's one of the films that kept pulling me back in and reminding me how much I love the horror genre in general at times in my life when I didn't really have a particular interest in films. Other than that, I'm just a huge fan of 80's slasher movies, and I firmly believe that this film is one of the more solid examples of the sub-genre.



#2 MS. 45 - Far and away my favorite Abel Ferrara film and one of my favorite rape-revenge films as well. Ferrara is a director who, to me, has always been one of the best when it comes to capturing the essence of scummy pre-Giuliani NYC on celluloid, and MS. 45 is one of his best examples of this. Actress Zoe Lund (who also wrote the screenplay for Ferrara's BAD LIEUTENANT before dying of a drug overdose at a young age) is absolutely stellar as a mute young woman who's raped not once but twice in a single day, and, as a result, leads a double life as seamstress by day and man-hating vigilante by night. I can't think of a lot of negative things to say about this movie; it's a quick, breezy film with a fun 80's sax score, a subtle, dark humor, and, most importantly, it's a great snapshot of a bygone era in one of cinema's greatest cities.



#1 MAD MAX 2: THE ROAD WARRIOR - Yep, the Ayatollah of Rock n' Rolla, the quintessential post-apocalypse movie, so on and so forth. Quite simply, one of the best (and most homoerotic) action-adventure movies ever made. Nothing more needs to be said about this one.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

1976: Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde



Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde
Directed by William Crain
1976
Starring Bernie Casey, Rosalind Cash, Marie O'Henry, Ji-Tu Cumbuka, Milt Cogan, Stu Gilliam
87 minutes

Dr. Henry Pride (played by Bernie Casey) is a kindly physician working at a hospital in a poor neighborhood. He is always turning down the advances of Linda (Marie O'Henry), an attractive prostitute with liver problems. With his lovely associate, Dr. Billie Worth (Rosalind Cash), Dr. Pride is working on an experimental drug to cure liver disease. He notices that it turns black rats into white rats. Another side effect is that the white rats turn evil and kill all the black rats. After several failures with lab animals, Dr. Pride realizes he needs a human test subject. After testing it on a dying patient with less than stellar results, the good doctor uses himself as a guinea pig.

After his "miracle drug" turns him into a big white creature filled with rage, Pride's evil side pursues Linda but she is terrified of him. The next day, when the effects have subsided and Dr. Pride is black to normal again, he reveals to Linda that he needs her to be a test subject for his drug. She declines but he tells her that refusal is not an option. Linda just barely escapes but others are not so lucky. Dead hookers begin showing up all over town.



Director William Crain (Blacula) takes some trashy and hilarious material and transforms it into something trashy and hilarious. Composer Johnny Pate keeps things funky and awesome. The script is filled with all types of ludicrously corny pimps, hookers, and drug dealers. It's also got lots of cursing, melodrama, violence, and jive talkin' that makes the blaxploitation genre so magical. But at the heart of it all, the story is a timeless one: a man with a hole in his heart uses modern science (and killing hookers) to fill that hole and comedy ensues.



There might be a message to this film but whatever it is, it's so heavy-handed that it's laughable. When Linda tells Dr. Pride that he isn't black enough, I just wanted to climb into a hole and die. The more he becomes like his evil white self, the more painful the story gets. An antidote to this schlock is my favorite character: Lt. Jackson, played by Ji-Tu Cumbuka. He's a super-cool detective who uses big words like "insalubrious" and cuts a very imposing swath through the neighborhood.



Despite its "white people are evil" vibe, which I don't take personally (because I happen to be a pretty righteous dude) or very seriously, I really love Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde. Bernie Casey really goes wild as Mr. Hyde. My favorite moment in the film is when Dr. Pride -in Mr. Hyde mode, of course- throws a hooker across a parking lot and then runs over her with his Rolls Royce. You should definitely check out this crazy flick, it's a wild and entertaining monster romp for the ages. Okay, maybe just one age: the sweet, sweet 70s.



Quotes

"Splittin' already, Gwen baby?"

"I gotta call my mama, motherfucker."

"Yeah well, when you see her tell her she knows where to send the money."

----

"Well, you know if it had been the regular bit, like a murder, shooting, stabbing, beating -then we could understand it and have the proclivity to solve it. But this little lady has had her neck crushed like in a vice; meaning somebody has put some shit into the game. You know what I mean?"

Thursday, December 8, 2011

1976: The Mysterious Monsters



The Mysterious Monsters
Directed by Robert Guenette
1976
Peter Graves, Peter Hurkos, William Stenberg, Sidney Walter, Jerilou Whelchel
91 minutes

Peter Graves narrates this delightfully clunky documentary on creatures unknown such as Bigfoot and The Loch Ness Monster. There are interviews with eyewitnesses, actors pretending to be eyewitnesses, researchers, and actors pretending to be researchers. Man oh man, 70s people were batshit crazy for legendary beasts! The Mysterious Monsters is incredibly entertaining and captured my imagination when I saw it myself in the 80s. It was impossible for my kid-brain to distinguish between the "real" footage and the reenactments. Today, I love how this film provides "irrefutable" evidence of the existence of these monsters. Shit man, there is so much conjecture and not-so-subtle manipulation of footage going on that it is impossible not to get a kick out of The Mysterious Monsters. Despite some fun chills and effective moments, I remain skeptical. Oh, not of the Yeti. I believe in that! I remain skeptical that Graves didn't desperately need a paycheck.

"Now, I have something inside this case that I want to know something more about. Can you psychometrize what's in here without ever having seen it and tell me something about it? Anything?"

"I- I will try."







This film is currently on Youtube in its entirety. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

NOT 1976: Hello! This is the Doomed Show Episode 10



Oh darn, I had to take a little break from all this 76ness to let you know that Hello! This is the Doomed Show has finally reached their 100th episode! Haters gonna hate! What? Oh shit. This is only the 10th episode. Fuck! Well... Anyway, Brad and Richard discuss FOR 4 HOURS the films that they feel encompass Lucio Fulci's "Golden Era". Listennnnnnnnn! Please.

You can listen or download right here!

Download from Mediafire here!

Check out the episode archive here!