Voiceover on opening titles tells us it’s a city film and has no story, good to get that out of the way. Italian folklore involves praising the ducks for helping the army? (google says it was geese). As expected, everyone is crazy for the pope. Memories of filmgoing with obstructed-view seats. The rainy highway sequence is a highlight. I know my standards have been lowered by a recent Argento, but sometimes the dubbing is almost good, like somebody gave a shit. Cheerfully profane once it gets to the theater for a variety show. Ancient artworks are discovered beneath the city, then minutes later the air exposure destroys them. Significant time spent with prostitutes, of course. Corny holy fashion show, and an outstanding Anna Magnani cameo. Bikers ride through the city at night, and okay so it’s not a narrative movie, but it really lacks an ending.
Thought I’d pair this with the Coen version, not realizing the latter wouldn’t come out till early next year. A terrific looking movie, reportedly in part due to newly-designed anamorphic lenses – almost technically impeccable, a few dubbing issues. I like the idea of turning parts of the monologues into voiceover, although it means the actors have to silently react to their overheard thoughts, which is harder to pull off than speaking the lines. It gets gruesome between Macduff’s slaughtered kids, the king’s guards being dismembered, and a man taking a crossbow bolt to the forehead – also some clumsy clanking armor battles (these are all compliments). The only time I felt the 1970’s was in the “dagger I see before me” scene.
Polanski’s first film after his wife was murdered – he’d been prepping What? but thought it’d appear crass(er), and Hugh Hefner(!) was looking to add respectability by getting into the Shakespeare business and losing a bunch of money. Opens with the witches on a beach… the second prophecy scene is zany, and culminates in a good mirror scene.
In the chronology of filmed Macbeths, Werner Schroeter’s obscure hourlong TV version came out the same year, a TV miniseries the year before, but there hadn’t been a major film since Throne of Blood. The next would probably be in ’79, the TV movie with Ian McKellen and Judi Dench. Never heard of a single person in the cast, besides MacB (Frenzy star Jon Finch). Lady M Francesca Annis would star in back-to-back sci-fi epics Krull and Dune. Macduff would become a Gilliam regular, and Banquo was in Dennis Potter’s Cream in My Coffee.
Macduff would like some revenge please:
Bruce is a foreigner in an English-speaking airport, and between the camera focus and sense of humor, movie gets off to a very shaky start, and never quite gets going. Okay yes, he fights Chuck Norris at the Colosseum, and at least Chuck is fast, unlike every other unworthy opponent here. And a pretty cool villain in Uncle Wang, who Bruce is supposed to be helping out before he goes insane and knifes his own men.
Anticipating a new wave of Beatlemania on twitter when Get Back dropped, I watched this in early Nov. I always catch a new Yo La Tengo reference when I watch a Beatles movie – last time was in Help!, dreaming ’bout Eleanor Bron, seeing her in the arms of Paul saying “I can say no more.” This one’s got a cameo by New York DJ Murray the K, who must be the inspiration for Ira’s DJ name.
Three girls and two boys experiencing different levels of Beatlemania in Maplewood NJ drive into the city to crash the Beatles’ Ed Sullivan Show appearance in NYC. No actual Beatle involvement, just stand-ins, glimped from below or behind with impersonator accents. Silly idea for a movie, pulled off wonderfully, an ensemble piece with an ever-growing ensemble, an awful lot of Beatles songs and a woozy happy ending.
L-R: Pam, Janice, Grace, Rosie
Rosie’s the emphatic one who wills the trip into action (Wendie Jo Sperber, Marty’s sister in Back to the Future), Pam is her bestie who plans to elope with her boy tomorrow (Nancy Allen’s followup to Carrie), then there’s Photographer Grace (Pesci’s wife in Raging Bull) and Protester Janice (Susan “daughter of Paul” Newman). Tony is basically a stowaway, out to cause trouble (Bobby Di Cicco of The Big Red One). Larry’s the Cameron-in-Ferris-Bueller of the gang (Marc McClure, aka Jimmy Olsen in Superman), borrowing his undertaker dad’s limo to get them all close to the hotel.
The theater has posters for Wild Strawberries and The Cranes are Flying:
In charge of security on the Beatles floor is Dick Miller – Pam gets by him inside a drink cart and spends quality time with the bands’ instruments while they’re out. Grace and Larry fail to raise cash by selling scraps of Beatle bedsheets, then she tries being a call girl but settles for extortionist instead. Janice and Tony befriend a mophead kid whose dad has tickets but will only give them up if the kid gets a haircut. And Rosie capers with a Beatlemaniac nerd called Ringo (Eddie Deezen of Grease the same year).
Miller grabs Grace:
Good house and one good character: Roddy McDowall as a jaded, buttoned-up medium refusing to let the spirits in. He and some others are sent by a rich guy to live in the definitely haunted house to prove the existence of an afterlife. Arrogant scientist Clive Revill (CHUD II: Bud the Chud) almost sinks the movie, but fortunately the house wins, and Roddy outlives Clive. Roddy’s fellow medium is Pamela Franklin (Food of the Gods, The Nanny), the first to die, and Clive’s long-suffering wife Gayle Hunnicutt (Eye of the Cat) is allowed to live. Roddy defeats the ghost by taunting it relentlessly, which seems a bad strategy, but don’t underestimate the British weakness against taunting. Written by Twilight Zone vet Richard Matheson. Hough has made his share of cult faves, and also a Howling sequel, which I’ve probably seen but the sequels were all so shitty I’ve never tried to straighten out which movie was which.
I watched The Lost George Romero Movie just because it’s hot from being freshly rediscovered. Should’ve watched Two Evil Eyes instead, but I hit my Argento quota yesterday. This is a basic Twilight Zone scenario, but unconvincing and overlong, the time-loop plot being the one cool thing about it. If you set an industrial film in a heavy-metaphor theme park, you’re gonna get Carnival of Souls vibes.
Lincoln Maazel explains that he is an actor (it’s true, he’s in Martin), then healthy Link interviews a beaten-up, agonized Link wearing the same suit. We follow healthy Link through various scenarios outside until he eventually becomes his miserable beat-down version. How did this happen? The movie wants us to think it’s elder abuse, but it seems everyone is just selfish dicks and society favors the rich. Anyway, the only Romero movie where the grim reaper rides a merry-go-round.
American Sam witnesses a woman get attacked in an art gallery after hours, then gets stalked by the killer and suspected by the asshole cops, but seems fine just hanging around Italy and playing detective. He replays what he saw at the scene (nicely done, with freeze frames and zooms) and the Honeywell-brand police computer equipment prints statistics and an outline of the attacker. Sam follows some unusual leads, of course paintings are involved, while his friend gets killed and his girlfriend Giulia kidnapped. Turns out the killer is Monica, the apparent victim of the gallery incident, and we get neat psychological explanations of everything over the ending.
The bird > the poster > the movie. This was Dario’s debut feature. Sam is Tony Musante, who really is American despite the dubbing, has been in a couple James Gray movies. Giulia is British, a screamer in Berberian Sound Studio. The Inspector is from Hercules and the Captive Women, and murderess Eva Renzi from The Prodigal Daughter. DP Vittorio Storaro shot The Spider’s Stratagem and The Conformist, also in 1970, a productive year.
Sam, his girl Giulia, and their Black Power poster:
Victim Killer Monica:
This is the 500th horror movie in the blog, holy shit. We’ve been running for over 15 years, so that’s around 2.7 horror movies per month. We can do better, I know we can.
It’s just not SHOCKtober until we watch a crappy sequel, and this one was pretty crappy. The original was no great masterpiece, but Cohen made God Told Me To in between, so I hoped he’d upped his game. I showed Katy a scene where the boom mic played a supporting role, but she was busy noticing that we’ve got the same couch as the 70’s couple. My favorite bit was a pigeon flying around the house, overdubbed with bat sounds.
Motherhood not working out as planned:
The one great idea here is that the isolated incident from part one turns into a national conspiracy (Cohen loves a good conspiracy), dad John Ryan from that movie returning to covertly assist couples with new or expecting mutant killer babies. Arizona dad Frederic Forrest (a Coppola fave) is a real prick – why did anyone put up with guys in the 70’s? New mom Kathleen Lloyd and underground mutant baby-hunting org head John Marley had shared the screen the year before in The Car (he’s the sheriff, she’s the girl whose entire house got run over). The movie tries to build suspense for a full hour so it won’t have to do anything else, then one-by-one POV-camera killings begin. I don’t get why the vigilante “volunteers” tent and gas a house their leader is still inside. In postscript, Forrest becomes either the new underground mutant-baby-hunter or the new underground mutant-baby-rescuer, it’s not clear which, but it’s not important since he’s been replaced by some more likable actors in It’s Alive 3. Nice to see Eddie Constantine here, though.
Mutant Baby is wearing his 3D glasses wrong:
The audio and dialogue in this movie is so shitty, it should bring shame on the families of everyone involved. The zooms are cool. I looked up the director to make fun of him, but he was deaf, so I’m gonna credit Clouse with all the cool zooms and blame Warner Bros for the sound. Bruce is in this as much as The Big Boss, there’s much time wasted on the corny ensemble cast (I can’t help but compare this to the closest-to-1973 ensemble film I’ve seen lately, Cotton Comes to Harlem, which was 100x more convincing). Overall a sad Hollywood attempt at a Hong Kong movie. Bruce Lee innocent, and his delightfully unusual voice speaking English is a secondary highlight after the justly-acclaimed mirror/claw finale.
Han (Sek Kin, the Chinese Timothy Dalton but with iron fists) lures fighters to his island, including Lee, charismatic gambler John Saxon, and Jim Kelly (who would go on to star in/as Black Belt Jones and Black Samurai). Kelly is introduced beating up racist cops and stealing their car, so we know he’s a good guy – wonder if that was as clear in 1973. Muscley Bolo is Han’s protector, would go on to fight Jean-Claude Van Damme. There’s a female operative on the island, and Bruce’s secret mission is to avenge the death of his sister, but mainly it’s a man’s movie, baby.
Han shows Saxon his claw museum:
Bolo is unimpressed by Bruce until it’s too late:
Jim Kelly rockin’ out: