Very difficult times right now for poor ol' US of A. :'( Please be safe out there, and if possible stay indoors. Watch some movies, and leave the unpleasantness of the real world for momentary make-believe cinematic escapism. Lucio Fulci's ZOMBIE (1979) and William Lustig's MANIAC (1980) in 4K UltraHD Blu-ray.I've seen "Zombie" my fair share of times (including on the big screen in 35mm), but haven't overdosed. Coming from the two-disc DVD set released by Shriek in 2004, this Dolby Vision 4K transfer is a revelation. Being able to appreciate the intricacy of the putrefaction make-up on the rotting corpses coming out of the ground is why you're willing to pay the 4K tax. So what if the phony eye effect on Olga Karlatos' face looks phonier? It's the minutes leading up to that memorable eye-gouging moment that benefit most from the entire transfer being the best "Zombie" has ever looked on home video.Heck, now that I've seen a lot more of Fulci's filmography I have no trouble stating that "Zombie" is his best horror movie by far. The camera work (including some fancy moves that pay off), the build-up to the underwater zombie reveal that is then topped-off by a shark duel, the inescapable similarities with real world pandemics (replace the word "zombie" with "COVID" during the final radio speech at the end... yikes!)... it's what you love about Italian horror in one future-proof 4K package. 5 Conquistador Tombstones (out of five) :-)I've only seen "Maniac" once on streaming, so rewatching it for the movie that it is (rather than the exploitation cult flick whose reputation preceded it) has made it more palatable. The 4K improvements are minimal, but every little bit counts to make that lovely grain sparkle. I love Caroline Munro, but in a movie in which corpses and mannequins come to life (or do they?) Anna's friendship with Frank Zito is a bridge too far for me to cross. More than even the ace special effects (between this and "Friday the 13th" 1980 was a banner year for Tom Savini), "Maniac" works because writer/co-producer/star Joe Spinell throws himself whole into the titular role. Unlike most disposable slashers from the era, you can feel personal demons exorcised on camera by a star and crew giving their all despite limited resources. 3 Bloody Scalps (out of five)Steven Soderbergh's CONTAGION (2011), which moved from rental to HBO exclusive just in time for HBO Max's launch (coincidence?), is "The Dark Knight" of Hollywood virus thrillers. Heck, even Cliff Martinez's excellent, pulsating thriller-like score has a Hans Zimmer vibe. Since "Outbreak" is the only comparable alternative Steven's movie wins by a mile. A minor hit nine years ago, "Contagion" made mostly the correct calls about what most of the world is going through now with the COVID-19 lockdowns/statistics (minus a few million deaths). Soderbergh missed the hoarding of toilet paper (he couldn't have known people would be that stupid), but was smart to cast CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta doing then what he does now nightly. It's not a perfect movie (Marion Cotillard's Chinese kidnapping subplot feels hollow and distracting), but even its moments that feel fantastical are grounded in reality. And the oldest trick in the Hollywood playbook works like a charm here: cast recognizable stars (Paltrow, Damon, Fishburne, Law, Cranston, Winslet, Gould, etc.) and you can be economical with your story beats and running time due to audience instantly relating to the characters. 4 Bloody Craniectomies (out of five).Also joined Mac McEntire at his Jury Room/Facebook rewatch of John Carpenter's ESCAPE FROM L.A. (1996). Still as dated, old-fashioned and out-of-tune-with-audiences as the day it was released... and that's why we love it. 3 'My God, She's Real!' Griers (out of five).
I had the chance to re-watch Maniac on the big screen of the Mahoning Drive-In last year and completely agree with you about the relationship with Munro's character. The relationship and the suave Spinell that accompanies it feels completely out of place. My understanding of why those scenes are there is that her husband provided the funds to finish the film. A bigger role for Munro was one of the stipulations for the money. Have you ever watched The Psychic? That is my favorite among Fulci's horror films. I have a preference for his work made before his gore period, anyway.
No "Psychic" for me yet. May watch on Junesploitation!'s Fulci Day.
Junesploitation is finally within reach, and I could not be more thrilled by it. The viewing list is set save for a couple of theme days and a free day. I made sure that the movies I saw this week were different from anything connected with Junesploitation.PEEPER (1975) – With the likes of Michael Caine and Natalie Wood in the cast, this spoof on 1940s film noir appeared to have some potential. And from the 1970s period (my fave). When I saw Timothy Carey show up as one of the hit men, my hopes increased. Peeper, sadly, is very muddled film. Much of the running time I was confused about what was going on, nor did the comedic elements come together particularly well. The film at least looks good. MILLION DOLLAR MERMAID (1952) – Technicolor fluff from MGM. Like any biopic from this period of Hollywood, Million Dollar Mermaid can stray far from reality. The story was inspired by the life of Annette Kellerman, a pioneering Australian swimmer and entertainer from the early 20th century, who is played by Esther Williams. Williams, being a great swimmer herself, was perfect casting. I really enjoy Williams’ films (perfect Technicolor fluff), but this one may very well be her best. The ‘water ballet’ sequences choreographed by Busby Berkeley are amazing. Co-starring Victor Mature, MERMAID is nostalgic escapism from Golden Age Hollywood at its best. FLOWER DRUM SONG (1961) – Marriage, marriage, marriage! Having known people of Chinese heritage, I am aware of how important this topic (and family, in general) is in Chinese culture. I still did not like being beaten over the head with it throughout Flower Drum Song. There is nothing in the film that I thought was terrible, though. As a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, there are memorable musical numbers and a few pleasant dance sequences. The theme of the immigrant experience is unusual for a musical. Flower Drum Song, moreover, is also the first all-Asian cast in a Hollywood film, which gives it a place in film history.FIVE STAR FINAL (1931) – Edward G. Robinson gave a riveting performance as an editor working for a tabloid newspaper. The story went into some surprisingly dark territory. I am having trouble remembering if any other films of this period depict a suicide. Highlights are a split-screen sequence (three individual scenes) that was timed perfectly and a pre-Frankenstein role for Boris Karloff as a drunken and lecherous reporter.
There's something about Pre-Code Hollywood movies that warms the cockles of my movie-loving heart. :-)
Been going a bit light on the movies for the past couple weeks in anticipation of Junesploitation, so not much to talk about on that front. Got some reading and video game playing cleared out before going on a month long deep-dive into movie watching. Deeper than usual that is.The big movie chains including the one I work for seem set on reopening in July so it's possible I'll be gearing up to be back to work full time before June is out. On the other hand being in the SF Bay Area the counties are being cautious with their reopening (which I agree with) so it's possible my particular theater will be closed until August or later.I guess I did watch 5th Element the other day, but I don't really have much to say about it. It's a movie I was lukewarm on when I saw it in the theater but a lot of my friends love it so I keep wanting to give it chances but it still has yet to win me over.Going to be a little bit more flexible in my Junesploitation viewing this year. I've made a list of streaming options for a lot of the days (especially for stuff like Canon day where there isn't a simple way to do a search for it) and there some days where I already owned stuff that fits, but what I actually choose to go with I won't decided until each day. Looking forward to it immensely.
I do the same, and mostly just pick a movie that fits that day. And often pick from what others have posted earlier in the day. There's enough from streaming, VOD, and my personal collection that I'll be able to watch a nice mix of new and stuff I wanted to rewatch. It truly is a golden age of being able to watch what you want, when you want! Having a hard list and sticking to it would feel (to me anyways) more like work. Although, on the other hand, a bit of time spent planning would probably avoid the several duds I'm bound to watch. Looking forward to it! My kids will be participating on movie nights, so I'll be watching a slightly more kid friendly fare than previous years.
Nothing brings the Calvert family together like joining dad in watching weird Italian horror, violent science fiction and rapey grindhouse flicks. 'Come on son, it'll make a man out of you!' :-O :-P
I wish I was able to read a more than I do, Ross. The inclination to read has been lacking, and forcing myself to do so is not any fun. In past years I have been more spontaneous in my Junesploitation choices than I will be this year. The strategy of relying on my physical media collection, Netflix rentals, and the DVR as much as possible is compelling me to plan ahead more.
For me, in past years I've tended to come up with a theme for my picks and would then make a list of things I'd be watching based on that. Part of it was because I found it fun to come up with some sort of theme or throughline, but a lot of it is because there are so many streaming options and companies putting out awesome blu rays of movies perfect for Junesploitation. I wanted to avoid getting to each day and spending a couple hours scrolling through streaming services trying to decide what I wanted to watch. The challenge of being spontaneous this year is just that.Casual, I don't always take the time to read much which is why I've been trying to make a little time to get a bit more done now. It helped that one of the things my mom sent me for my birthday last month was "The Story of Film" by Mark Cousins, so even when I'm reading I'm not always entirely out of the realm of movies.
I haven't commented for a few weeks, but a couple movies worth mentioning: Fixed Bayonets! (1951). This was Samuel Fuller's follow up to Steel Helmet (1951) that I watched a few weeks ago. 2 movies in the same year, both set in Korea while the 18 month long war was still going. Kind of incredible. This movie had a lot more money behind it and you can see it in the quality of the sets, and action pieces. However, he had a military advisor that presumably reigned in anything controversial being in the movie. This was "one for the studio", and while being a bigger film in every way, ended up being less interesting than Steel Helmet which touched upon the Japanese Interments camp in the US among other issues. Das Boot (1981) is a perfect movie, and one of my favourites and most rewatched.Bloodsport. Watched this with the kids, and it was a big hit! I've shown them clips, but we've never seen the whole thing. Once the Kumate begins and the music starts rolling, it's just pure martial arts fun until the end.Rush Hour 1 &2. Watched this with the kids and it was new to me as well. Jackie Chan is so much fun, and kind of a blind spot for me. I will correct this. Chris Tucker as an action star is somewhat believable. There's lots of cutting around him in the action sequences, and he seems to always be wearing shoulder pads in his suit to look a little more imposing. Good fun. I had only planned to watch the first, but the kids insisted we watch the 2nd (and the 3rd is coming soon).
To be clear, my kids hadn't seen Bloodsport, but I have. Many times.
'No, daddy, not the 'naked man doing the splits' movie again! Waaaaa! :-D
I had the chance to watch a couple of Sam Fuller's films two weeks ago, one a studio production and the other a B-movie crime story. The B-movie, The Crimson Kimono, was far more interesting to watch. You would probably like it.
Didn't TCM air some Sam Fuller war movies over Memorial Day Weekend? l distinctly remember seeing the listing for "Steel Helmet" on my guide.
Indeed, The Steel Helmet was part of TCM's programming last weekend.
Wrapping up the Joe Dante binge-watch this week. How great is The Burbs? We all love Tom Hanks and Carrie Fisher, but the movie’s real MVP is composer Jerry Goldsmith. He absolutely nails what the movie is about. Gremlins 2 is Dante’s victory lap. He’s playing with all the best toys in the toybox while no one else is looking. I imagine Matinee was a hard sell – coming of age story, plus William Castle spoof, plus the Cuban missile crisis. All the parts come together so nicely, though. It shows how our love of movies help us get through hard times. Small Soldiers is a mixed bag. I like the actual toys vs. humans carnage, and Kirsten Dunst as the world’s most self-confident teenager. But the movie demands we be emotionally invested in the plight of the Gorgonites, and I just can’t with the freakin’ Gorgonites. Looney Tunes Back in Action is a lot of fun, yet it’s a bummer knowing how much better it could have been.Then Dante pivoted back to indie horror guy with The Hole. I like the movie in that “horror-lite” way, and how it’s not afraid to put the supernatural/fantasy stuff on screen like other movies of its kind. I’m still left with the thought that anyone could have directed this. I daresay Burying the Ex needed a rewrite or two. The undead ex-girlfriend is sometimes the protagonist and sometimes the villain, leaving the movie without a POV for the audience to get behind. Still love Daddario, though.#Junesploitation beckons...
Hey guys! I was busy this week with work and Star Trek: Voyager and all the anticipationsploitation, but I did manage to watch one movie: A League of Their Own. I hadn't seen it in years but was moved to order the Blu-ray when I saw a documentary about a former AAGPBL player that used a couple of short clips from the movie (A Secret Love, think I mentioned it here a week or two ago).Love this movie! Major League is still my favorite baseball movie because it's nostalgic for me, but I recognize that this is objectively a better movie. The acting is great, the story moves and it looks good. Only when it ended, I realized that the runtime was over two hours. It definitely didn't feel that long. This is gonna be in heavy rewatch rotation from now on.Btw, it's not weird to own (and love) three different movies about baseball without ever actually having seen a game of baseball, right?
I'm also currently watching Voyage (in parrallel with DS9). First time ever for me. I like it. I just finished season 3 of both showsA good movie is a good movie, no matter if you like the sport or not. i don't really care for football, they it makes for great cinema
If you're watching them in parallel, be prepared for some mild DS9 spoilers in Voyager. DS9 started two years before Voyager, so season 3 of Voyager ran in parallel with season 5 of DS9. Just sayin'.
If anyone is looking for lots of free (with ads) junesploitation choices, TUBI TV has a gang of wuxia, blaxploitation, and horror flicks.
I like Tubi. Feels like Prime's sloppy seconds, but with minimal commercial breaks.
Love TubiTv. They just added a bunch of movies Raid, Raid 2, Cloud Atlas, Scream 2 & 3, The Craft, Urban Legend, Kill Bill 1 & 2, Terminator, Hoosiers and Pumpkinhead
It's a Junesploitation! smorgasbord. :-)
For me making the list for Junesploitation is almost as fun as watching them. It's like seeing all the possibilities that could happen. It's like I don't usually book to much ahead when I am travelling, but I do know all the possible routes of where I can do. I love the research. Junesploitation might be one of my favourite times of year for that reason. I know the desitinations, now I can find all the possibilities within that.This week I've been watching both the Alien and Rocky Franchises. It's been interesting because they have nothing in common. Rocky kinda tracks Stallone's career while Alien tracks the individual directors. Kinda. Anway it's been a blast. And bring on Junespoitation.
One Junesploitation note: Normally in addition to be posting here, I'd be posting what I'm watching on Twitter as well. Under the circumstances for now at least I'm going to be limited my posting to this site. As much as I normally enjoy doing my part to helping give visibility to the event to people who maybe don't know this site or what Junespoitation is all about, the juxtaposition of fun movie watching and real world horror is too much for me right now. That said, I encourage everyone to participate in whatever ways they find fun.