JUNESPLOITATION! SMOGASBORD!THE BIG RACKET (1976, A.Prime, benpeterson: 6/14/2019)Was saving this one for COPS Day, but fuck it! An intense "poliziotteschi" in which Inspector Nico Palmieri (Fabio Testi at his mid-70's Testiest) tries and fails to end the reign of terror of a well-organized gang of mob enforcers (including a woman who's as rapey and sadist as her male companions). It's like "Predator 2," except here the cops aren't a tenth as strong as the ruthless criminals they're up against. Even Nico isn't safe after his car is thrown (with him in it) over a cliff! For the final act an unshackled Nico and every one we've seen humiliated/destroyed bands together to take on the criminals, "Dirty Dozen" style. Easily one the best Junesploitation! flicks I've ever seen. 5 Skeet Shooting Testis (out of 5... and I don't go around tossing my Testis lightly).THE CHANT OF BILLIE BLACKSMITH (1978, Blu-ray -also available on A.Prime-)Loosely based on real events that happened 120 years ago in rural Australia, think "Heavenly Creatures" meets the Lizzie Borden murders w/o white privilege. A mixed-race orphan (Tommy Lewis) is constantly shit upon by both black and white folks for not fitting into either's world. Raised by a white reverend and married to a white woman, the titular character is neither saint nor the mindless butcher newspapers portray him as after Jimmie and some relatives go on a murderous spree against the latest in a long line of abusive (by withholding their salary and food) white employers. Very uncomfortable viewing during the current George Floyd protests, but this isn't "Mandingo." Director Fred Schepisi ("Roxanne," "Mr. Baseball") delivers a nuanced and balanced mixture of historical blaxploitation and character-driven art showing the logical outcome when this particular man's race defined his value to society and himself. 4.5 Blood-Stained Hatchets (out of 5)CRIMINALLY INSANE, aka CRAZY FAT ETHEL (1975, A.Prime, A Casual Listener: 6/6/2019) And the truth in advertising prize goes to this nasty little flick about a mentally unstable woman (Priscilla Alden) who can only think about food and eating, or getting rid of corpses piling up in grandma's room. Everything looks/sounds/feels so cheap I swear the composer had to be playing instruments as they were filming to save on production costs; when no music's playing the boom mic captures the sound of the camera mags filming (face palm!). Good news: gory bits are passable and effective, plus it's only 61 min. Bad news: this hour-long movie felt like the longest week of my life. 3.5 Filipino Brown Men From Stockton (out of 5)COLD MOUNTAIN (2003, HBO GO)Caught this right before it left HBO (sorry!). You'd think the most expensive prestige movie ever made by Miramax under the Weinsteins' regime would be above exploitation tropes. But this Anthony Minghella adaptation of the Charles Frazier novel (essentially an epic "Gone With the Wind"-type Civil War romance set in the North Carolina mountains) regularly gets down and dirty. Trench warfare is "Saving Private Ryan" nasty, Ray Winston's Confederate Home Guard boss Teague derives pleasure from torturing old ladies (brutal!), and Natalie Portman... :'( Forget the chemistry-free scenes between Nicole Kidman and Jude Law. It's all about Bodie (Charlie Hunnam in an early role) going medieval on runaway kids, or Renée Zellweger saying something off-kilter funny. All that plus Phillip Seymour Hoffman stealing his scenes from under Jude's nose. 3.5 Fortune-Telling Wells (out of 5)
I believe I wrote that only an exploitation nut would find any value in Criminally Insane, J.M. Without Priscilla Alden's off-kilter performance,there is nothing there to find any enjoyment in. I am going one step beyond Mandingo this month with the sequel, Drum. From the brief part I have watched, it lacks any iota of respectability that Mandingo at least aims for.
Good luck with "Drum." :'(
Gold of the Amazon Women (1979, dir. Mark L. Lester)A strapping adventurer in search of the lost city of El Dorado in the jungles of Brazil is captured by a tribe of Amazon warrior women, who are of course all gorgeous white women, led by the extremely Swedish Anita Ekberg. But when villainous and greedy Donald Pleasance attacks the tribe, the two dozen women obviously aren't a match for him, so the adventurer has to save the day. And mansplain.It's exactly as progressive in its racial and sexual politics as you'd expect from cheap 70's schlock. Bo Svenson hams it up in the lead and Pleasance does what he does best as the scenery-chewing villain in the (regrettably few) scenes he has. Unfortunately, Ekberg phones in her performance (though you can't really blame her considering the material), and the other women are there just to look pretty.Curses of the Witch (Noidan kirot) (1927, dir. Teuvo Puro)Widely regarded as the first Finnish horror movie, Curses of the Witch is the story about a newlywed couple whose house happens to be on the spot an evil Sámi* witch cursed centuries earlier, and the curse's lingering effects on them.(* Sámi are a minority culture living in northern parts of Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Russia, with a history of oppression towards them by the countries' majority populations.)It's more melodrama than horror, though it does have distinct horror elements, and often relies on needlessly wordy intertitles more than the actors' performances or editing to tell the story. Some horror imagery is surprisingly effective.
The Man Who Could Cheat Death (1959, Terence Fisher)I've gotten into a habbit of watching a classic horror movie on Sunday Mornings. And because of that I'm becoming a big Hammer Horror and maybe an even bigger Terence Fisher fan. The Man who Could Cheat Death is a perfect mix of Victorian Penny Dreadfuls. And Anton Diffring has the same energy as Christopher Lee have the same energy and it's a malevolent charm off and I loved it.Miami Connection (1987, Y. K. Kim)I was expecting dopiness, which there is plenty of. Actors canoot always keep a straight face and no one really seems to react to any punches. But when you're in a band and practising tai kong do, fighting bad guys it's all good. Acutally there was more heart than I was expecting and I couldn't help falling for this movie. And I still have that song stuck in my head.Iron Monkey (1993, Yuen Woo-ping)I loooooved this. Iron Monkey is a gorgeous looking movie, it's warm with so many tones and textures. The choreography is amazing, I am starting to see they Yuen Woo-ping is a legend.The Chinese Boxer (1970, Wang Yu)Karate vs Kung Fu. It's fun, jamed packed, down and dirty and tight. It's every you want from a Kung Fu movie.
Friends through eternity
We'll stay together through thick and thin.
Spookies (1986)The least believable thing about this movie is the characters all having rsvped to the same party. Good, shlocky Vinegar Syndrome fun. Certainly some attempts at Evil Dead vibes (really makes you appreciate Rami), hilarious 80s electrical effects (what 80s b horror doesn't have random zapping?) and a 13 year old mauled/buried alive by a strange cat pirate. This is now the second movie I've watched for Junesploitation, in a row, with bizarre cat sound effects (Snake in Eagle's Shadow).
PRIVATE PARTS (1972, dir. Paul Bartel) on the DVRI have been saving this since the start of the year for Junesploitation. Private Parts was well worth the wait. It is one of those rare films that is both great exploitation and a completely satisfying watch. It is a very assured feature debut for Bartel, whose films I have gained a lot appreciation for over the past couple of years. Private Parts is weird, creepy, funny, unsettling, and titillating. You know you are watching exploitation when the nudity begins in the opening credits. The focus of the story is Cheryl, a young woman who ran away from the Midwest to Los Angeles. With things not going well for her, she seeks out an aunt she has never met who owns a hotel in the city. Cheryl’s stay there will not at all be like what she expected.Though the thriller element keep you watching, the characters are the primary strength of Private Parts. As the story progresses, their personalities are gradually allowed to emerge. First impressions are not always to be trusted.It will take a lot to knock this off my top-watch list for the month. By the way, I am starting to wonder if Paul Bartel was born bald. EUGENIE DE SADE (1973, dir. Jess Franco) with the French dubJunesploitation would not be complete without seeing a film of Jess Franco. I have an affection for his work. Since the one I chose last year turned out absolutely awful, I was more careful this time.Eugenie De Sade is one of a handful of movies he made with Soledad Miranda before her death at the age of 27. I believe Franco’s most memorable films were made with her. One can easily find fault with the messy plots and languid pacing, but they are special to me. This might be the last one I had not watched before.Eugenie de Sade feels like a love letter to her, and the fact that she was already deceased when it came out makes it more poignant. She plays the step-daughter of a writer who fantasizes about committing the perfect murder. The step-daughter happens to share his desires, and they become a couple in murder as well as in love. Though the story is completely sordid, the style is pure arthouse. Arthouse erotica is a very apt description. Between Soledad, the music, and the location shooting, there is a lot of beauty to admire. This combination of exploitation and high-brow aesthetics is what fascinates me about this period of Jess Franco’s career. By the mid-1970s, sadly, he had largely stopped trying to bring any artfulness to his films.
Paul Bartel was a madman. Every film I've seen of his I've enjoyed. I might have to find a spot for Private Parts this month.
PREACHERMAN (1971) on Amazon Prime“You better run, preacherman, or the sheriff’s gonna do you in.” – Title SongA humorous relic of southern-fried hicksploitation. Amos Huxley is a lecherous conman masquerading as pious preacher. Despite his faults, however, he still a likeable guy. That is why this outdated flick still has a charm to it. The film was shot in North Carolina, which gives it a real sense of place. There are plenty of locals featured in it. I loved the title song, which directly tells the story of the film. As a cheap drive-in movie goes, this is well above-average.
Mr. Majestyk (1978, dir. Richard Fleischer)One of the few Elmore Leonard original screenplays & an entry into the "everyday man pushed too far" canon -- I do appreciate how the inciting incident isn't something depressing, like the murder of his family. The lovely location and Bronson performance make this one extremely watchable
HOTEL ARTEMIS (2018)I remember the reviews being pretty lukewarm about this one; the main critique being that it felt like too much of a John Wick-verse knockoff. Maybe the distance of time helped out, but I felt like this was different enough to warrant its own story, especially since it's told from an outsider, not an assassin. Jodie Foster always does something interesting, and I didn't know Dave Bautista was in this (bonus). A pleasant enough diversion.
The Country Bears (2002)Better than Crash, The Artist and Green Book. Not as good as Draft Day.
Blue Collar (1978)On this glorious Free Space! day, I decided to watch movies from the year of my birth aka the year of our lord. Blue Collar is not quite about what's happening now, but it's definitely adjacent. It's not the people that are the problem, it's the system. It turns a normal, hard working person against his brother/sister. A powerhouse trio of Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel and Yaphet Kotto are the titular line workers. It's another version of things haven't change and it's time for something else. Rise up.
Death Wish 3 (1985) Dir. Michael WinnerI keep watching these movies hoping Bronson is going to put his vast architectural knowledge to good use. But all he does is shoot people. How about this: a sub-plot where Paul is managing an office building project under construction. In the 4th act, he lures the gang inside, only for them to realize too late that its a death trap. Dead-end corridors, non-rated partitions, egress doors that swing in, only fire extinguishers available in a building that would clearly require a sprinkler system. Paul stands near the front door and says "I bribed the Building Inspector, baby. Ka-blam-o." Before tossing a match and lighting the whole place up. Now that would make sense. Anyway, RIP the Giggler.
Can't wait for the current racial unrest to die down (hopefully with actual results, not just empty promises) so we can go back to enjoying "Death Wish 3" without any guilt whatsoever. :-)
Day 7Robot Holocaust (1987)An amazing, awesome, cheap piece of shit that brought a smile to my face. Everything about this movie screamed why was I made and who the hell was I made for. The monster effects deserve a special shout out. We get most of the monsters made of hand puppets. You get the get the same effect with monsters out of the wall, out of a stomach, you only get to see one part of a spider's body because the budget couldn't afford anything else. The final monster is just a guy in a mocked up potato sack, with his head sticking out and a tube connecting to his head. Finally the movie just wouldn't end, it was like a bad date that just wanted to keep walking and talking. No movie you have entertained enough, go to sleep now!!Troma's War (1988)Blood, guts, sex, crude sexual humor, and immaturity. Troma checks it all off in a movie that is way too long. Everything is overdone to the point of numbness. Is this Troma'a masterpiece or it one of the most excessive movies ever made? Am I way off base and just missing the entire point? Who knows. It feels like I survived the movies instead of enjoying it in anyway. The Tongfather (1974)A secret service bad ass mother fucker who fucks up everything is fine but not much happens in this movie. The bad guys mostly fight each other over opium while the good guy waits to pick up the pieces. The movie does has a cool, funky Shaft esque 70s theme that is fun, but it doesn't help with anything. The final fight is cool with all the damn slow mo but this was a disappointment.
GAS PUMP GIRLS (1979) "just what is it youre selling here?" "GAS!"Badass women open up a gas station across from another crappy one, attracting customers by wearing minimal clothing and providing customers with more than gas. The most important thing to mention is that is stars Kirsten Baker from Friday the 13th Part II...yes the one who wears the best shorts in all of horror.
Sea Fever (2019)On Sci-Fi day I mentioned that I’m a sucker for ocean-bound horror and this movie is no exception. The crew of an Irish trawler is stranded at sea with a deadly parasite in their water supply, leading to paranoia and varied grotesqueries. There’s lots of talk of contagion and quarantine so it was an unexpectedly timely choice, which also helped it burrow deep under my skin.Hermione Corfield is very good in the lead as a marine biology student joining a seasoned crew for a learning-expedition-turned-struggle-for-survival. There’s some incredibly beautiful imagery both on and under the water along with the horrific stuff, and the ship itself never feels like a set which lends an immediacy to the proceedings. I have a feeling this one is going to linger in my nightmares for quite some time. Loved it.
Hammersploitation Double Feature!One Million Years B.C. (1966, dir. Don Chaffey)Hammer's prehistoric adventure film! Don't come to it just because you love Hammer, it's obviously missing the British culture and even the snappy dialogue (it's basically dialogue free). I enjoyed it for what a beautiful and lavish production it all is, and the incredible Ray Harryhausen dinosaur effects. And nothing can prepare you for how stunning Raquel Welch is.The Devil-Ship Pirates (1964, dir. Don Sharp)Very much a copy of The Pirates of Blood River, which I saw recently and was amazing. But this one is very okay. While Blood River had Kerwin Matthews as the protagonist and John Gilling in the director's chair, Devil-Ship's substitutes are no comparison. It's also lacking the interesting conflicts and relationships between the good guys, here they're completely generic. Still, any movie with Christopher Lee as a pirate captain cannot be bad. It's great anytime he's on screen.
The Hitman (1991, dir. Aaron Norris)Michael Parks is by far my favorite part of this. There isn’t a ton of action and Chuck barely shows of his hand-to-hand skills. There are some nice Pacific Northwest locations but ultimately I wish it wasn’t so gun heavy, it doesn’t add a ton.
Tetsuo aka Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989, dir. Shinya Tsukamoto)I know Shinya Tsukamoto's vision is its own unique thing, so it's reductive to say this is a mix between Lynchian nightmare logic and Cronenbergian body horror, but I don't know how else to describe this. I honestly have no idea whether the movie is terrible or brilliant. Maybe it's both?Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968, dir. Freddie Francis)The plot is slight but boy, does the movie look good. There's just something about that Hammer Technicolor aesthetic that gets me every time.
Maniac Cop 2 (1990) dir. William LustigWhen my local cult video store clerk recommended this movie to me (yes, we still have one here), I figured it would be in the same camp as Silent Night Deadly Night 2, or Slumber Party Massacre 2. What an incredible surprise to discover this was a real-ass movie, in a sense.This movie has real-ass locations, real-ass cinematography, real-ass stunts, and real-ass actors (Davi and Zdar aside, it also has Michael Lerner, Bruce Campell, Charles Napier, Clarence Williams III, Danny Trejo, and a cameo from Sam Raimi himself). The choice to set it in New York at Christmas, almost entirely at night, evokes this warm feeling rivaled by Shane Black vehicles. The thrills are solid, as is the slow reveal of the make-up on Zdar, and it goes in some places I wasn't totally expecting. The setting and dialogue sometimes feels like 4 mutated turtle bros were about to pop in and whip ass, but who cares? You're making a movie called "Maniac Cop 2", have some fun and heighten it. It even ends with an original rap song about the Maniac Cop.I also don't think this movie minimizes any real world events surrounding cops and violence, so I'd say it's fair game if you may feel queasy about these genres.
I can't think of any other trilogy where the second installment is so clearly superior to the prequel and follow-up. I came into "Maniac Cop 2" without seeing the other two, and when I finally did I was so happy this was my entry point. Bill Lustig's best and most entertaining film by a wide margin.
The Lodge (2019, dir. Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz)It was fine. I was expecting a little more based on the Directors' previous movie (Goodnight Mommy). It does have a good cabin-y, lodge-y feel to it though.
Righteous Kill (2008)Not a good movie but for a Sunday afternoon it was still fun to watch Bob and Al play cops.
SEVEN MEN FROM NOW (1956, dir. Budd Boetticher) Been on my list for a while, and I thought it was going to be a simple revenge movie, but a las, its way more than that. It IS a revenge movie, but doesn't really fit the exploitation category. However its a great film - and fans of Lee Marvin, its a must see. An hour and 18 minutes of pure tension and a master filmmaking pulling the strings. Mysterious and misdirections everywhere - its one of those where everyone talks around the thing to leave us in doubt. This is where Lee Marvin shines. Knowing his history, we aren't sure what side he's on, or even if he's on a side, and if he isn't, we don't know where he will ultimiatey end up. Throughout this film, as soon as he appears onscreen, we know he's capable of both doing bad things (or either running from doing bad things) and being on the side of good, and he plays with this throughout the movie. It may be my favorite performance of his.
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The Magnificent Butcher (1979) Eureka's Three Films with Sammo Hung collectionAfter Jackie Chan Day yesterday, I wanted at least a little bit more of that stuff but where some of the other people had a chance to shine without Chan. I have a few other selections like this throughout the month as well, but for today it will just be Sammo Hung's starring role in one this Woo-Ping Yuen film that came out the year after Drunken Master.If I have any issue with this movie, it's that the calligraphy fight near the beginning is far and away better than any of the other fights. The other fights are still good of course, especially one with my boy Ching-Ying Lam, but man that calligraphy battle is fun.
Phantom of the Paradise (1974) Being a fan of rock musicals I've been circling this one for a long time now (in no small part because of Patrick's high praises) so I decided to use today's space to finally put it on. And boy, am I glad that I did. At first the story, the acting and the cinematic style may seem a little weird, but the moment it becomes clear where all this is going (I had no idea what it's about until I pressed play) the movie gets gloriously, fearlessly, unapologetically weird and doesn't let up until the very end. I wasn't prepared for what I saw, but I was READY. Sidenote: Between this and Suspiria Jessica Harper is sneakily becoming the MVP of the month for me.
Tremors (1990)I've been having a hard time watching new to me movies. I just keep going back to stuff I've already seen and like. I like this movie. So, I watched it.
Django Unchained (2012) Dir. Quentin Tarantino Blaxsploitation. First rewatch since opening weekend. I was a bit underwhelmed the first time through, but like it much more this time. Nothing I can add that hasn't been said a million times.
The Cheap Detective (1978)I know Peter Falk a little bit from Columbo but mostly from The Princess Bride. I'd never heard of this movie. I had an absolute blast. It's basically a spoof of noir films. The Maltese Falcon and Chinatown with a mix of Casablanca(not quite noir but it's mostly about Bogart). A huge cast of characters that all do a pretty decent job. Madeleine Kahn playing multiple roles is fantastic. Ann Margret is ridiculously gorgeous. I can count good spoofs on one hand but I might add another finger for this one.
ANGEL (1984) This is the notorious “private school girl by day, prostitute by night” movie that was always on the top shelf at the video store. It’s nowhere near as scandalous as its reputation. A lot of the movie is side stories about the kooky characters who roam the city streets at night, and it’s like some Adult Swim show. Then the movie goes “dark” by adding a serial killer, but that too is so absurd you have to laugh. I wonder if this was intended to be a comedy at some point. 30 days of HELLO MARY LOU: PROM NIGHT II, day 7 This movie is often described as low-budget, but a lot of the practical effects are genuinely good. I’m thinking specifically of the hands that come out of the mirror, and our hero Vicky sinking into the classroom chalkboard. Mary Lou’s big freakout at the prom might not be as big as Carrie’s but it too has some fun explosions, blue lightning, and other such gags.
Mausoleum (1983, dir. Michael Dugan)A young woman is possessed by an evil spirit that also possessed her mom when she was a kid. She's married to Marjoe Gortner, so being possessed is the second weirdest thing to ever happen to her. Lots of gore and nudity. Pretty perfect #Junesploitation material.
Priest (2011) NetflixFirst time rewatching this since it came out in the theater. I was lukewarm on it then, but wanted to give it another chance since there are a lot of things I feel like I should like about it. I'm generally a fan of Bettany, but Scott Stewart's attempts to make him a grim action hero really don't play to his strengths. I like Karl Urban but he's not given much to work with here aside from a hat and some contact lenses. The sort of post-apocalyptic setting with Vampires should be interesting but then the vampires for the most part are bland CG creatures. Ultimately my lukewarm feelings on this one haven't changed.
Do the Right Thing (1989)/Malcolm X (1992)“Are we gonna live together? Together, are we gonna live?”
The Medusa Touch (1978)Usually, police procedurals are not my thing. Except when Richard Burton is beaten nearly to death because he killed a shitload of people with his mind. There are some terrific death scenes including my favorite thing in the world: bodies falling from the sky and dying horribly. There was apparently a lot of psychic activity in the late 70s. Burton is giving 110% in something that could be shlockey if he wasn't in it. He was also great in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? That wasn't a question, that's just what the title is.
I freakin' love this movie! :-)
The Beyond (1981)Had to return to a favorite discovery from a junesploitation of yesteryear. Such a brutal violent fever dream. Love it.
Johnny Guitar (1954, dir. Nicholas Ray)Absolute dynomite western, well done in every way. Joan Crawford is electric in the lead role, and Sterling Hayden could not be more cool. Makes you wish more westerns were made from a female perspective. It's a nice change of pace for the genre.Tower of Terror (1997, dir. D.J. MacHale)Made for TV Disney spooky movie with Steve Guttenberg and Kirsten Dunst! I have a huge soft spot for kid-friendly horror and I'm super forgiving with them. I enjoyed this because of course I did.
Are You in the House Alone? (1978)If this movie was trying to get me to hate everyone that wasn't the main girl, mission accomplished. Someone is sending her scary notes and calling her on the phone harassing her. Of course, nobody believes her. Even after she is assaulted, people tell her to just get over it. It made me angry but that is how most girls feel. Even when you tell people to their face they still don't believe you. You need evidence. Get the fuck out of here.
The Abyss (1989)Do you have any idea how nice it is to finally see a movie you've meant to see for 31 years? Good movie, great last act.
Across 110th Street (1972)Solid. This week's Reserved Seating.
Manchurian Candidate (2004) dirJonathan DemmeDon't let anyone tell you otherwise, this movie whips. It's not dated on a single way, and even the garrish pallet of early 2000s movies is toned down, while still being incredibly well lit. Everyone in this movie is somebody, and they deliver big chewy performances that I'm entranced by, even if the camera is only showing their temples. The use of red and blue ink, the backgrounding of marching bands, and the constant use of mirrors or camera POVs is very evocative, and adds to Demme's already expert style.Most of all, what I love is how little anyone acts like a caricature in this movie. At first I was bothered by the long shots of the unit as the music flipped through tracks, but it's because Jonathan Demme is going to make you aware that these are people, damnit! I think Demme and I would get along well, especially considering Demme apparently got along with everybody very well. I would love for him to still be around, making quirky little experimental projects, or helping his friends use his clout to make their passion projects come true.R.I.P. to an absolute legend.
Corvette Summer (1978)Every time Mark Hamill yells, all I hear is "shut down all the garbage mashers on the detention level!" And when he whines, I hear "but I was going into Tosche station to pick up some power converters!" And finally, when Annie Potts talks I hear "Ghostbusters, what do ya want." This has been pointless nonsense by Dr. Bob.
Barbarella (1968)I was finding the mix of sexy and silly only slightly amusing , but after a bit the weirdness of it all gelled and I was in.Also, "my tongue box".
Exorcism at 60,000 Feet (2020)Just the worst. Not “good bad.” Not “fun bad.” Just “bad bad.” Shrill and amateurish— racist too!
Fateful Findings (2013)The Room but with a few more genre-y subplots.
Last Man Standing (1996- dir. Walter Hill)Probably the weakest of the Yojimbo riffs I’ve seen (after the aforementioned and A Fistful of Dollars), but there’s a reason this story resonates. Willis is awake (always a good sign), Walken slays, Dern fucking rules, and this looks damn gorgeous.The Long Riders (1980- dir. Walter Hill)Real solid 80’s western, and predictably David Carradine steals the whole damn thing. The real brothers playing brothers surprisingly isn’t a gimmick, but absolutely works in context. Kindergarten Cop’s Pamela Reed is the low key MVP.
Nightmare Alley1947, dir. Edmond GouldingI became interested in this movie after watching HBO’s ‘Carnivale’ and reading a good bit on the rise of spiritualism and grift during the Great Depression. Everything about this story is right up my alley, the performances are great, and the dread is super high. I kept going back to the IMDb page for the del Toro remake that’s in the works to sneak a peak at the new cast as the characters appeared and now I may be too hyped. Tyrone Power’s descent into depravity is brutal to watch, especially considering the mystery surrounding the true nature of the carnival “geek”. Likewise, the stunning Coleen Gray’s journey from naive showgirl to guilt ridden accomplice nearing her breaking point is pretty harrowing to watch even through the melodrama. Really dug this one and it’s a shame it’s still stuck on an OOP DVD.EDIT: Had this written up but completely whiffed on posting this one in time. Oh well.
This is a wonderful film, Aaron, one of the darkest tales to come out of 1940s Hollywood. Tyrone Power was an actor, not a movie star, in it.
You know what makes a great double feature?Vampire Circus (1972) followed by Adam and Daniel's discussion on Cobwebs!
Vibes (1988, dir. Ken Kwapis)The giallo/poliziotteschi hybrid we’d planned on watching looked terrible on Amazon Prime, so we pivoted to this breezy ‘80s comedy. Maybe not exactly exploitation, but the cast (which includes Jeff Goldblum, Cyndi Lauper, my man Julian Sands, Peter Falk, Elizabeth Peña, and Steve Buscemi) is total dynamite.
Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street (2019)Documentary of Mark Patton and the legacy of Nightmare of Elm Street 2. Interesting info of what was going on at the time, and how it affected people like Mark in Hollywood during and after production.