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Rock: It's Your Decision (1982)
God Versus Lynyrd Skynyrd.
I notice that I'm the first one to review this movie on the IMDb, so I'll give it to you straight, okay? For years, Christian fundamentalists have told us that rock music is the ruination of the youth of America, that it's the gateway to sin and degradation an it will destroy your morals if you listen to The Eagles, Jefferson Starship and The Rolling Stones.
Nice religious kid Jeff loves God. He also loves rock music. And he loves some pretty decent groups, too. None that the viewer can listen to, though - God doesn't like modern rock but He does respects copyright laws, looks like. His parents are at their wits end listening to that "junk". His church pastor tries telling him that he must make a decision between rock and The Rock of Ages. His friends don't see the problem with listening to music he likes.
So the question is posed: can you follow the teachings of Jesus AND rock and roll all night? "Rock: It's Your Decision" is told a lot more straightforwardly than you might expect for this kind of movie; anyone looking for a "Reefer Madness"-style expose' or religious nuts hysterically spouting that you WILL go to Hell if you listen to anything by Captain and Tennille or Rod Stewart will be sadly disappointed.
Well...maybe not completely; there are a few over-the-top moments of overacting and a virtual bonanza of late 70s/early 80s fashions and lots of religious quotes. And the end sermon simply must be heard to be appreciated.
So is this a case of over-zealous religious nuts telling you that you're being brainwashed by mainstream rock and roll or just a presentation of the facts as they have been made known? I won't say any more about it. Save that YOU MUST watch this movie. It will either give you something to think about or a laugh riot to share with friends. Either way, "Rock: It's Your Decision" is a viewing experience for unwashed heathens of every brace.
Play it at your next church function - they'll either think it's a worthy Sunday School subject or a laugh riot.
Or don't - it's your decision.
Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)
So Bad It's...Comforting.
Okay, yes; "Plan 9 From Outer Space" is a bad movie. I think we're all ready to concede that point.
Bad directing, yes. Bad acting, most definitely. Bad sets, bad continuity, bad special effects; they're all in there. And REALLY bad use of actors the likes of Bela Lugosi (remember when he was actually scary in his "Dracula" heyday?) and Tor Johnson (yes, he was a good actor; anyone here recall his comedic turns in movies like "The Lemon Drop Kid" and his many appearances on "The Red Skelton Show"?).
So all of this is true, then; but there's still so many who watch "Plan 9" over and over again, drinking in every small detail and relishing such choice dialog as "A flying saucer? You mean the kind from up there?", "You see? You see? You're stupid minds! Stupid! Stupid!" or the classic "Inspector Clay is dead, murdered, and somebody's responsible!".
So what is it about a movie like "Plan 9" that has people turn to it time and again, gets it colorized, brings vivid commentary from the likes of no less than Mike Nelson (from TV's "MST3K) and even lauded for its 'merits' in the classic tome "The Golden Turkey Awards"?
Quite simple: it is one of those films whose badness is tempered by the sheer likability of what is put on screen.
In other words, some scenes are so completely endearing and evocative of the work of Ed D. Wood that when you watch this film and see...
* Pie tin spaceships wobble happily across a cloth backdrop sky
* Police officers stumble over bending cardboard tombstones
* A detective scratch at the back of his head with his own gun barrel
* Scenes change from day to night and back again all within a few seconds time
* A double for Bela who looks nothing like him holding a cape over his face and stand a good foot or two higher than Bela did
* several different locations that use the same furniture and props as previous scenes had
...it just gives you a warm, comfortable feeling in that after watching so many movies that sweat over every detail of the film, here is a director who is only interested in telling a spooky story as a fever dream; never mind that it makes no sense, never mind that much of the dialog is incomprehensible, never mind that the bookend scenes with Criswell hold no context, and certainly never mind that the most expressive actor in the whole thing is one who never acted in another film before or since (John "Bunny" Breckenridge).
When you watch "Plan 9 From Outer Space", you can at least see what Wood was *trying* to do, and that's enough. It certainly was enough to make a little film from 1959 fondly remembered even today, which is more than can be said for many other, bigger films from the same time period (quick: name the biggest money-making film from 1959! ... See there?)
So forget everything you've heard. "Plan 9 From Outer Space" is bad, yes, but not bad in the same way that films nowadays are bad (like "Gigli" or "Baby Geniuses"). This is a film that is bad in an endlessly re-watchable way, a way that will guarantee you watch it with a huge smile on your face and a song in your heart. It really is sort of comforting; like wrapping up in a huge furry blanket in front of a roaring fireplace on a cold winter day...with spaceships and Mona McKinnon, sure, but you get the idea.
So I heartily endorse watching "Plan 9" as soon as you can. As often as you can. With as many friends as you can. And, above all...enjoy.
Eight stars out of ten...and this is all based on sworn testimony!
Death 4 Told (2004)
Trust me: I was in the movie!
When it comes to horror films, the only tried and true formula that has stood the test of time (besides red food coloring and corn syrup) is the anthology; that is, a combination of stories that form the body of a movie.
There had been several British variations of this over the years ("Tales from the Crypt", "Asylum", "Vault of Horror"), and Hollywood has tried its hand at it as well, with varying degrees of success. It's had its greatest success on TV ('The Twilight Zone', 'Outer Limits', HBO's 'Tales From The Crypt'), and therefore every filmic variation will indeed suffer by the comparison of style and substance to what had been set before.
It should come as no surprise, however, that there has indeed been more bad than good horror anthology films. Just look at your video store 'Horror' section. SO many, in fact, that it takes a special something to make even one stand out from the norm.
Sometimes it's a matter of attitude ("Tales From the 'Hood"), other times a matter of the talent before and behind the camera (the aforementioned British classics). And then other times still it depends on the energy, desire to entertain and a willingness to admit that there's nothing new under the sun and just crank it all up as loud and as fun as a horror movie can be.
To say that "Death 4 Told" does nothing new is not news. But for a movie that took less that $90,000 to film and produce and featured a majority of fledgling actors and so forth, it would be difficult to not appreciate the effort put forth. I'm sure this also isn't news to a majority of the people who are reading this.
Suffice it to say that as far as anthology movies go, "Death 4 Told" does deliver the goods from beginning to end.
Since this is an anthology, allow me to describe each segment as ambiguously as possible:
1) A DOLL'S HOUSE - A young writer (Brian Cade) and his wife (Britt Marder) move to a small town and rent a beautiful house for him to work in. Secrets abound, however, when footsteps and a child's laughter are heard within. This is only compounded when Pete (ME: George Litman!), a crazy local, asks a cryptic question: 'Have ya met Toby yet?'
2) FOLKLORE - A group of college friends set out for the woods when the driver Travis (Nar Williams) runs over a strange wolf-like animal. Soon, the group finds themselves beset by strange sounds deep in the woods, rustling bushes and glowing white eyes that lie in wait in the dark night.
3) WORLD'S MOST HAUNTED - A young intern (Stasia Andrews) on a reality TV show helps set up an abandoned asylum for a broadcast along with the director (Harley Kaplan), technician (Mark Van Fossen) and soundman (Michael Evanichko). But after she finds some unknown secrets on the building's history, its evil history comes to hideous light.
4) THE PSYCHIC - Hypocritical psychic Madame Baudeau (Margot Kidder) begins to find her predictions are finally coming true. Unfortunately, the future she forsees is all tragic. Will the next person she reads for live or die?
Again, nothing here is terribly original story-wise. That's not the point here. The point is that the directors (Bo Buckley, Michael Close) set the mood early on; messy and chaotic but with huge dollops of humor (much of it self-referential to those who are familiar with the genre); the actors, big and small, put everything they have into their parts.
It's all in the tone - fun, of course, but a suspension of belief is still necessary for any movie to work. That's true here; not to mention an appreciation for the general scenes you see in any b-movie: the scary legends, the dark shadows, the unexplained noises, the sinister locals, the sudden splashes of blood, the gratuitous displays of skin.
God bless independent horror films.
Ten stars out of ten. Watch for "Death 4 Told"!
Dennis the Menace (1986)
Hey, Mr. WIIIIILLLLLSSSSONN!!!!!!
I didn't think TV's original version of "Dennis the Menace" (way back in the '50s) was enough of a menace to earn the title. Let's fact it: it was the '50s, how much COULD he get away with?
That's part of the reason that this 1986 reinvention works so much better. Also the fact that here he's actually a CARTOON! Yes! Hank Ketcham should have been proud: this is the proper venue for a character born in the Sunday funnies.
But where Jay North was limited as to just what kind of mischief he could get into, this model of Dennis (voiced by Brennan Thicke) could literally get into ANYTHING! Here, he played with dinosaurs, foiled bomb-carrying spies, interacted with movie hero Cowboy Bob straight from the movie screen (a la Woody Allen's "Purple Rose of Cairo"!) and regularly thwarted aliens, opera singers, bullies, rude adults, criminals and, of course, frazzled neighbor George Wilson.
Wilson (as voiced by LaMarche and, especially, Phil Hartman!) stayed the same in every episode and rightfully so: any simple task he would start or try to start would consistently be thwarted by Dennis' misguided attempts to be neighborly, help him out or otherwise simply be there. Mr. Wilson knew what he was capable of, so why shouldn't he be wary of his mere presence? You know the equation: Mr. Wilson + Dennis = disaster!
I thought this was another great series distributed by DIC Entertainment and if you appreciate the mischief a child can get into (and get others into), you'll agree - this "Menace" was never better!
Ten stars. catch it, and enjoy this master of "Menace"!
Out of the Blue (1979)
Here's the setup - a stranger tries to help a family solve their problems. See, right there that covers nearly every family sitcom idea for the past fifty years (and beyond).
And here, right at the end of the '70s, comes "Out of the Blue" - another variation on a theme. This time out, an angel (Brogan) is sent to Earth to live with the prerequisite precocious suburban family and help them with their troubles. Sort of like a sitcom of "It's a Wonderful Life" - except it ain't that wonderful.
Did this even last the season? No, and no wonder; due to the zillions of these type of shows already out there (especially on ABC) it just wasn't (pardon the expression) heaven-sent, as such drivel would have to be. The jokes were blah, the people were blah and as for Brogan himself...blah.
SOLE MERIT - Eileen Heckart as Brogan's supervising angel. How could she be in anything and NOT be good? Even this?
I do remember Brogan's character popping up once (before his premiere, I think) on "Happy Days" as a very minor character in an episode. Well, at least he was seen in syndication SOMEWHERE.
No stars for "Out of the Blue".
By the way, Brogan's character name was Random - if that gives you any hint to how they did the casting.
Hee Haw Honeys (1978)
A spinoff from "Hee Haw"? A-yep.
"Hee Haw Honeys" took place in a truckstop (makes perfect sense) run by Roman and Price with the "Honeys" of the title as the waitresses.
Misty Rowe was one of them and the other? KATHIE LEE GIFFORD! I mean, WOW! She was cute and all but you just don't think of her name and "Hee Haw spinoff" in the same sentence. She made the best of the situation, though, even asking her on-screen mom Roman at one point (as concerns sister Misty), "Did you take more vitamins when you had her?"
And then there was Gailiard Sartain. He was the resident busboy/bottle washer and was a hoot unto himself. I swear, I watched the show regularly just to see what fool thing he'd do next.
And the music? All wonderful; there was a gospel tinge of songs therein (mostly by Roman and Price) but as far as comparison to the original? No way, cousin.
Seven stars for a "Honey" of a show.
The Oddball Couple (1975)
One's very mannered, very fussy and clean....
While the other has a very special talent for messing up the team!
I'm talking about "The Oddball Couple"; they're a couple that's a couple of oddballs! And if all that sounds familiar - congratulations, you remember part of that show's theme!
Every week, neat-freak cat Spiffy (Nelson) and slob dog Fleabag (Winchell) did a cartoon variation on Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau (or Tony Randall and Jack Klugman) and got on each others' nerves while sharing the same house/workspace. But as familiar as this "Odd Couple" variation may seem, the thought of a cat and dog trying to live with each other is funny enough.
And it didn't hurt to have vocal pros like Nelson and Winchell on board, either. They made the lines all the more enjoyable and the outlandish situations they got into (joining the Foreign Legion, babysitting a giant's baby, watching a talking plant, catching an unlucky leprechaun, etc.) all the funnier.
I know of NOWHERE to find these cartoons anymore. But at least I still remember them. VERY fondly.
Ten stars for "The Oddball Couple". Those eight-balls!
Typical Hudson Brothers goofiness....
Anyone remember the Hudson Brothers?
Sure, who in the mid-70s didn't hear of them at least once in their life?
Now, do you remember "Bonkers"?
Well, suffice it to say that this was the syndicated equivalent of an insane asylum, with the Hudsons forgetting the songs they sang in their earlier TV variety series in favor of jokes, sight-gags, puns and the endless abuse directed at co-host/announcer/foil Bob "Don't Call Me Monkey" Monkhouse.
It wasn't subtle, it wasn't couth and it sure wasn't bright very often but I do remember laughing out loud more than once here. With guest stars like John Ritter, Karen Valentine and the like ambling in to join in for a few seconds at a time, they basically were whisked aside for the sake of a few vaudeville joke routines (featuring rimshots from a cobweb-covered drummer), a ditzy-looking blonde announcing segments in a burly truck driver's voice and a song-and-dance routine that ended up in a shambles by the end.
It seems that the Hudson's series never lasted very long. Maybe they were just too weird for TV?
Nine stars for "Bonkers". Weird fun!
You didn't expect Pebbles to stay a baby forever, did you?
In "The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show", the babies from the classic "Flintstones" series are now teenagers and have their own friends, adventures and mis-adventures in Bedrock. Of course, it's all sprinkled with the "hip" attitude from the early '70s and lots of blackout gags and jokes to keep things interesting.
For the most part, Pebbles (Struthers) always had big ideas she tried to put into motion, usually failing in large-scale fashion. Sound Familiar? Like father, like daughter.
And Fred, Barney, Wilma and Betty are along for the fun, too - naturally, the respective Flintstone and Rubble pater familias are as helpful here as they ever were.
Was it any fun, though? Yeah, how could it not be? The situations were always good for a laugh and the voices (North, McCall, etc) all perfectly accentuated the characters - girlfriends, rich snobs, bikers, mammoths and all.
All in all, good rock-headed fun and a perfect extension of the series.
TIDBIT - Struthers did the voice for Pebbles here, just like she was daddy's little girl for Archie Bunker in "All in the Family". Coincidence?
Go with the "Flo"!
After leaving the employ of Mel's Diner from "Alice", what's a girl to do? In Florence Jean Castleberry's case, go to Texas and open your own place!
In "Flo", the lamentably short-lived spin-off from "Alice", Flo (Holliday) runs into an even more eclectic group than she dealt with at Mel's. The gruff Earl (Lewis), laconic Les (Keep), bucolic Farley (Baker) and Flo's extended family (Bond, Flippen) kept things interesting.
And when there wasn't the excitement at Flo's Yellow Rose there were always plots dealing with UFOs, mysterious strangers and men in Hawaiian garb ("I don't know why it's called a sarong," Flo lasciviously comments towards a sarong-ed Earl, "when it looks sa-right to me!").
There were always lots of laughs in each episode, both big and small. I'm kind of shocked it didn't last longer. Maybe the suits thought Flo couldn't manage on her own.
If that be the case, then on behalf of Flo herself: KISS MY GRITS!
Ten stars for "Flo"; Polly Holliday's SECOND finest half-hour.
Vegetable Soup (1975)
To satisfy your intellectual hunger....
Way back in my youth, I would tune in after school to watch "Vegetable Soup", a show like no other I'd seen at the time. And a show that taught important lessons each week about playing fair, telling the truth, getting along with others and, every once in a while, a pretty tasty snack recipe.
Let's see, how much can I remember about this show? I recall a puppet segment where a bunch of kids build a rocket ship and get lost, traveling to different planets and helping the aliens with their problems on their way back home.
There was also a live-action part with a young boy that owned a pet python named Nigel in the inner-city and dealt with topics of responsibility and other truths of pet ownership.
Then there was an animated spoon (I think) that gave out recipes for guacamole and other after school treats that kids could easily make.
I'm sure I've forgotten other parts of this great show, but there were more, to be sure (including the surreal animated segments in-between) and some very cool lessons to be learned within.
Thanks, "Vegetable Soup".
Baggy Pants & the Nitwits (1977)
Shabby "Baggy", quick "Wits"....
For at least half this show, "Baggy Pants and the Nitwits" was as funny as anything on TV. But then there's that other half....
Y'see, it's like this: in the first half, the focus is on the character Baggy Pants, who looks for all the world like Charlie Chaplin reincarnated as a cat. In his part, he basically goes through kiddie versions of his original's antics. For some reason, seeing a cat-like Charlie was pretty redundant (at that time, I was already familiar with Chaplin's work) and just simply not as funny in this watered-down version. In fact, it was just biding time until the second half....
The Nitwits took over the last half, where retired superhero Tyrone (voiced by Johnson) and his long-suffering wife Gladys (voiced by Buzzi) go into action to fight unspeakable foes (like a woman in a chicken suit, a moving blob of water, etc.) and all the while act and look like their dopplegangers back on the original "Laugh-In" series.
The dialogue, sounding mostly improvised by Johnson, was a riot and, to be sure, he got the best lines that way. SAMPLE - complimenting his walking cane Elmo (don't ask): "You are a good cane - remind me to take you jogging with me tomorrow!"
Well, at least it was a half-good show to watch on Saturday mornings. Back in 1977. If they ever release it on video, I hope they just go with the GOOD half.
Five stars for "Baggy Pants and the Nitwits". Yay, Tyrone; sorry, Charlie.
CPO Sharkey (1976)
Don Rickles - insult comic, hockey puck - Chief Petty Officer?
In "C.P.O. Sharkey", Rickles has the Navy blues as the C.P.O. of the title trying to whip a bunch of raw recruits into nautical shape. To say he fails isn't as true that it was fun to watch him try.
Every week, Sharkey had to deal with obtuse recruits (including Landesberg!), dim-witted seamen (Isacksen), stern captains (Allen and Slattery, respectively), and a semi-understanding chief (Page) who tried without success to keep Sharkey out of trouble.
In the brief time this show was on the air, Sharkey ran the gamut of working with babies, inflatable dolls, submarines and Mexican jails, all the time rolling off his lines with that old Rickles finesse we all know and love.
It's been ages since I saw this show but I remember it like yesterday. It was crazy, goofy and constantly hilarious! Hey, Nick at Nite or TV Land: are you listening? BRING BACK THIS SHOW!!
Ten stars. At ease, Don.
The Ghost Busters (1975)
We're "The GHOOOOOST BUSTERRRRS"!!!
He's Spencer! He's Tracy! I'm Kong! YAAAAAHH!!!!
"The Ghost Busters" (not to be confused with the 1984 film with Bill Murray) told the live action Filmation tale of the three chronically slapstick-ish busters of the title (Storch, Tucker and Burns as the gorilla) tackling all manner of ghosts - which all seem to have come from the same graveyard. Hmmm....
Anyway, even though the trio bumbled from episode to episode and seemed just a little south of competent, they ended up putting the ghosts back where they came from, with all manner of vaudeville routines and even some fast-motion running thrown in from time to time.
For the whippersnappers who didn't watch "F-Troop" way back when, here was the perfect way to see the chemistry between Storch and Tucker, and with a gorilla mixed in, to boot!
Do they even have this on video anymore? Probably not. Oh well, I'll always have memories - and that theme running through my head forever....
Ten stars. "The Ghost Busters" DO IT AGAAAAAAAAAAIN!!!
The Brady Kids (1972)
You rotten "Kids"....
Let's face it: in the '70s, EVERYONE had a cartoon series. Even people who didn't need one.
Case in point: "The Brady Kids".
The original kids (for the most part) did their own voices and live in the suburbs without Mike, Carol and Alice but with a magical mynah bird voiced by Larry Storch. Don't look at me: I just report the facts.
I remember it very well and also the quality of the show itself. In a word: yuck. In two words: yuck gag. In three: yuck gag barf.
Even with cartoon appearances by Superman, The Lone Ranger and other animated heroes and musical interludes, this only serves to remind one of "Scooby-Doo" in the same way a fancy car makes you think of a flat tire (Scooby and the gang being the car).
I usually remember the cartoons of my youth with some fondness. Not here: "The Brady Kids" make you only yearn for stricter child labor laws.
And no, I don't have these on video. Would anyone WANT TO?
No stars for this very "Brady" disaster.
May I introduce you to one of the most flat-out insane Italian horror/gore movies to come down the pike. For sheer audacity, this one has no equals (or at least darn few).
"E tu vivrai nel terrore - L'aldila" (or "The Beyond", as I fondly remember) is the beguilingly simple story of a cute little hotel in the deep South (Southern Louisiana, that is; NOT Southern Italy!) whose basement has an inconvenient little doorway to hell where undead warlocks, zombies, tarantulas and other creepy crawlies lurk to entomb man in darkness, death, despair and other such "D" words.
I tell you, almost wall-to-wall gore FX permeate this film and the blood-drenched sensibilities of director Lucio Fulci make every scene a nail-biter, gut-wrencher, heart-stopper and probably will involve sundry other parts of your body, as well.
Actors MacColl and Warbeck do their stalwart best fighting the undead and let's face it: if you've seen the very end of this film, can you seriously be scared by anything else in life?
Take my advice, kids: rent this movie, buy this movie, do anything you must to get a hold of this film. If you love blood, guts and quicklime, get "E tu vivrai nel terrore - L'aldila" NOW!
Ten blood-soaked stars for this beauty.
And remember: DO NOT ENTRY.
Dünyayi Kurtaran Adam (1982)
Raiders of the Lost Cause....
I like this movie.
No, really; this is one of the most unrestrained, joyously goofy, lovingly bone-headed endeavors put on film since Jerry Lewis took to the camera.
But it's not a comedy! I THINK it isn't, anyway.
Think you've seen it all? Check out this: "Dünyayi kurtaran adam" (or "Turkish Star Wars" or "The Man who Saves the World" or whatever alias it has in Witness Protection now) not only borrows but begs and steals elements and music from "Star Wars" (natch), "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Flash Gordon"; many scenes simply run clips from "Star Wars" interspersed in otherwise non-space scenes, probably just to keep reminding you this is taking place in a galaxy far far away....
But then the film-makers throw in their own special FX.
Red-cell tints, back projection, jerky stop-motion brains (don't go there), shag-rug aliens, party masks (one alien is a red-colored devil mask, complete with goatee, widow's peak and horns! MAN!!), toilet paper-wrapped zombies, and...and....
Okay, caught my breath. Get this: there are a lot (and I do mean A LOT) of scenes where they play the "SW" clips through a partially blocked-out screen. What; the camera suddenly developing glaucoma?
And the heroes? Two non-Solos who wear polyester shirts (that blue one with the two yellow flowers on the chest - STYLIN'!) and give karate kicks and chops and sport physiques like any well-schooled middle-aged banker would possess. Nice hair, though.
As far as the dialogue goes, couldn't get a word of it. I don't speak Turkish, but who needs dialogue; this is apparently not a movie that takes great pains to make a brave new world.
So it's dumb, gratuitously thick and probably illegal. But it IS funny. Maybe that was the goal, after all?
Ten stars and a Golden Glove for "Dünyayi kurtaran adam". Buy a copy today...hey, anyone know George Lucas' birthday?
Duck Soup (1933)
In the "Soup"....
What can I say?
"Duck Soup", featuring all four Marx Brothers in their last quartet appearance, wreaking havoc as never before on not only the Sylvania's vile ruler Trentino (Calhern) and Freedonia's sole matron Mrs. Teasdale (Dumont - who else?) and everybody and thing that happens into their view.
To say this is funny is just not enough. The brothers four let loose with a barrage of jokes both outrageous, ingenious, hilarious and most definitely worthy of quote, honor and reverence at very special moments (i.e. - parties, holidays, christenings, auctions, long walks, bedtime, breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch...get the idea?).
To describe the plot is futility. Unlike modern plot-driven "comedies", the Marx Brothers understood that all that is needed of a movie is the barest semblance of an idea (Freedonia president Groucho declares war on Sylvania) to make with gags big and small, all with the same payoff - BIG!
Who has the best scene? Hard to tell, since everyone gets at least one or two great scenes each, sometimes more. I've already discussed the dialogue, but the sight gags - oh, the sight gags! The mirror scene, Groucho's confrontations with Trentino, the courtroom scene, Chico and Harpo all pretending to be Groucho (don't ask), the musical numbers, the...well, I could go on, but you know what I mean - this is THE MARX BROTHERS, for cryin' out loud!
See "Duck Soup" right now! Rent it, catch it on TV, borrow it from your neighbor, swipe it from your little brother. I don't want your excuses - watch it NOW!
Ten stars. Hail Freedonia!
By the way, does anyone know what the title has to do with the film? Me neither. Must be a Marx Brothers thing.
Horse Feathers (1932)
All right, class; what have we learned about college, thanks to the Marx Brothers classic "Horse Feathers"? We've learned:
1) College professors (Groucho) can sing whenever they want to.
2) Speakeasy workers (Chico) can be football heroes.
3) Silent guys (Harpo) are darned good harp players.
4) A professor's son (Zeppo) can be just about the same age as his dad.
5) A woman (Todd) can be in love with four men at the same time.
6) The password is "swordfish".
Besides that, you can learn some hilarious jokes and running gags (especially concerning ice), how to thoroughly disrupt a college class, earn a jackpot from a pay phone, play football with almost no adheration to the rules and how to take the low road to higher education, laughing all the way.
Kids, forget college. Just watch "Horse Feathers": that's all you need to learn in life. Look what it did for me!
Ten stars and a "college seal" for the movie that makes the best combined use of The Marx Brothers, college, football and one-liners than any other movie ever made! Guaranteed!
Animal Crackers (1930)
Hooray for Captain Spaulding!
Is it a surprise that "Animal Crackers" takes a simple plot and turns it on its ear in a matter of minutes as a launching pad for the insanity of the Marx Brothers?
No, but it makes sense.
The characters in "Animal Crackers" celebrate the return of world traveler Captain Spaulding (Groucho) while also dealing with the theft of a rare work of art at the home of the wealthy Mrs. Rittenhouse (Dumont), where the soiree takes place. But once the good captain arrives, along with Spaulding's stenographer Jamison (Zeppo), Signore Ravelli (Chico) and the Professor (Harpo), nothing sane or expected takes place afterwards. But really, what did you expect?
Perfect foils are the likes of Dumont and art patron Mr. Chandler (Sorin), the latter of which is revealed to be Abie the Fish Peddler from Czechoslovakia by fellow Czech Chico. in fact, here's a FAVORITE LINE: Chandler - (to Chico) "Hey! How did you get to be Italian?" Chico - "Never you a-mind; who's-a confession is-a this?". What's not to love?
Anyway, there's loads of quotable dialogue, sight gags galore, a great running gag with a picture of a horse and a finale that must be seen to be believed. Of course, this whole MOVIE must be seen to be believed!
Ten stars and a pair of elephant pajamas for "Animal Crackers" - the perfect side dish for four hams.
TIDBIT - The song "Hooray for Captain Spaulding" was later re-used by Groucho for his game show "You Bet Your Life". Can't say that I blame him.
The "Joys" of cameos....
Yes, as a matter of fact, I DO remember this Bob Hope special. But I never remembered its name ("Joys"? Who would have remembered that?).
Let's see, I was about 11 years-old when I first saw "Joys" on TV, so how much do I remember? Well - I remember Bob Hope (who else?) inviting multitudes of comics and comic actors to his home for some sort of party and, suddenly, they all start turning up murdered by a masked killer who leaves white gloves at the scene of the crime. Soon, Bob's house is littered with white gloves, and his swimming pool is crammed full of face-down corpses.
Funny, huh? Well, there was a laugh-track, but I was more creeped out by the goings-on than anything else. What's funny about watching Marty Allen, Foster Brooks, Don Rickles and other top comics get laid out? Wellll.... Maybe, if you were a critic?
Anyway, so Bob does what any right-thinking man would do in his case - call some TV detectives! And that he does, calling in Pepper Anderson (Dickenson), Mannix (Connors), Elery Queen (Hutton - remember him?), Kojak (Savalas), Detective Fish (Vigoda!) even pops in, all to end up in the pool with the others.
Finally, poor old Bob is left by himself in a final showdown with the killer until....
Hmmm, should I spoil this or not? Ah well, it isn't out on video. So....
Bob gets killed and ends up in heaven by himself (wonder where the others went?), still trying to figure out who killed them all. Then, in a shot of the studio audience, presumably watching the special, a pan reveals the killer there, peeling off his mask to reveal...JOHNNY CARSON!! He then rolls off his only (and this show's most memorable) line: "They're all gone; now, I can do it alone!" ...END OF SPOILER
And what can I say? If you can remember a TV special decades after the fact, it must have been pretty good.
Or pretty warped.
Five stars for "Joys". And NO, I don't have this on tape.
To quote Bob Seger: shame on the Moon....
It's inescapable that "Inchon" is a bad movie. I mean, look at its pedigree:
*Funded by Moonies (Reverend Sun Myung Moon dipped deep in his pockets for this one),
*A morbidly stupid script (originally authored by the screenwriter for "The Happy Hooker"? Please....),
*A director working under haphazard circumstances (Young did great with the James Bond films but language barriers ruined countless shots and drove the cost of the film sky high),
*A cast that is capable of greatness but not in this instance (Bisset, Gazzara, Roundtree, Janssen, Mifune, Olivier!!!!),
*And a budget that most frequently disappears from the screen (how can $48 million not show on the screen? This is the movie that answers that question).
I saw this many moons ago (get it? Ha ha....) at my local theater on a double bill with "The Last American Virgin" (yes, you read right) and I think "Virgin" suffered from the association.
And Laurence Olivier has been in great things ("Wuthering Heights", "Rebecca", "Henry V", "Richard III", "Spartacus", "Sleuth") but has also been in his share of very bad things ("The Betsy", "The Boys from Brazil", "Dracula"/1979, "The Jazz Singer", "The Jigsaw Man", "Wild Geese II"). But as a putty-faced, mascara-smeared, gravel-voiced variation of General Douglas McArthur (more like his Loren Hardeman character from "The Betsy"), Olivier washes away all he'd accomplished with his Shakespeare work and takes on the guise of a wax dummy (with almost as much expressiveness).
And the movie itself? Forget everything you thought you knew about the Korean War and all its planning, maneuvers and troop placements. It's just about soldiers running back and forth, explosions, ships sailing far out of camera range and Douglas McArthur reciting the Lord's Prayer. Oh, and Bissett bouncing around. That's entertainment (sort of)!
On top of all of this, there was always the fear in its first-run status that Moonies would be posted at every theater in America to recruit Moonies-to-be. I escaped that but not the movie itself.
In the end, I can see why this one isn't on video or TV or even bootlegged on Ebay. "Inchon" may have been an important battle but the only thing the movie is important for is showing that it can waste more money that "Heaven's Gate". Congratulations!
No stars for "Inchon" - it shall NOT return.
Commando Lovers (1986)
LOVE these "Commando"s....
Work with me here: Amber Lynn (beautiful), Gina Carrera (sexy) and Renee Summers (GODDESS!) are commandos. Really! And they're out to fight for truth, justice and wall-to-wall sex while dressed in fatigues (SEXY fatigues) and carrying guns. What more do you want??!
Myself, I want more Renee Summers: she is so CUTE!
Plot? Forget about it. No-brainer here, sexy gals (especially Renee), lots of sex (this is a XXX, you know) and Amber acquits herself well in her pre-plastic enhancement days. Check out "Commando Lovers", it's a killer.
Eight stars, easily.
P.S. - love you, Renee.
Rabbit Punch (1948)
TIDBIT - Rabbits never fight fair.
And nowhere is that more evident than in this classic "Rabbit Punch" where boxing fan Bugs jeers and heckles a boxing champion until he finds himself in the ring with the aforementioned champ to duke it out.
And anyone who knows what Bugs Bunny is capable of pretty much expects the champ to get the worst of the deal.
Director Chuck Jones makes a veritable ballet out of the antics in the ring and manages to make Bugs (naturally voiced by Blanc) and the champ (Bletcher) graceful, clumsy, victorious and beaten up badly in equal turns.
And granted, this is the only boxing match you'll ever see axle grease, bricks, cannons and trains used in.
Ten stars and a golden glove for "Rabbit Punch" and for our champ Bugs.
A Feather in His Hare (1948)
When a bespectacled indian goes rabbit hunting and happens across Bugs Bunny, it can only make for a bad experience for the hunter.
Indeed, in "A Feather in His Hare", Bugs (Blanc) does make life miserable for the same noble brave (also Blanc) again and again. By use of "Here is the Rabbit" signs, moving stakes, summertime snowballs ('cause it's too cold to make them in the winter), tomahawk scalp massages and freshly-made pottery. Until at last the indian declares he is the Last of the Mohicans! But even then, Bugs delivers a crushing blow.
As directed by Jones, Bugs makes such tomfoolery subtle yet hilarious. Even then, it's hard to be subtle with declarations like, "Oh, Prunella!". Try it sometime.
Ten stars and a full feather headdress for "A Feather in His Hare". Er...UGH!