I’d had this confused with Kentucky Fried Movie all along. It’s not so bad, a sketch comedy anthology. Came out September 1987, so that must have been around when my family took the Universal Studios tour – I remember this was being advertised but I wasn’t old enough to see it.

Sketches:
– Arsenio gets attacked by everything in his apartment, finally falling to his death out the window
– fake Penthouse video

– Murray’s remote sucks him into the TV, wife Selma keeps changing the channel
– Michelle Pfeiffer had a baby, Idiot Doctor Griffin Dunne lost it
– fake hair loss ad
– titular fake 1955 moon landing movie
– BB King fake ad about black men born without soul
– Rosanna Arquette runs a credit and ID check on blind date Steve Guttenberg
– Henry Silva hosts “Bullshit or Not”, investigating if the Loch Ness Monster was Jack the Ripper
– Bruce McCulloch-esque Archie Hahn is watching TV when the movie critics start reviewing him

– titular moon landing movie pt 2
– fake ad for edible silly putty
– Bruce gets roasted at his funeral by an all-star comedian slate, his wife is the closing act
– David Alan Grier is the black guy without soul, part 2
– video pirates discover booty of gold vhs tapes (including The Other Side of the Wind)

– Ed Begley Jr. is Son of Invisible Man, not actually invisible, his assistant Trent doing damage control
– Amazon Women pt 3
– ad: John Ingle hosting an out-of-business sale for a national art museum
– ad: Henry Silva pt 2: sinking of the titanic
– ad for a novel about a sexy white house first lady
– meek teen Matt Adler buying condoms for hotgirl Kelly Preston, pharmacist is his family friend
– Amazon women pt 4, cutting back to the movie having missed important plot developments, a good joke reused in Grindhouse
– Dave McFly gets custom tape from video store of hotgirl sherrie making love to him, her husband frankie comes home waving a gun around, kills her and himself, McFly is arrested
– Grier has no soul pt. 3: okay we get it
– credits
– 1950s teen scare film: Iowan Carrie Fisher goes to NYC, passed around by talent scout, gets married, goes to Dr. Paul Bartel because she caught a social disease
– closes with an ad for the Universal Studios tour, coming back around.

Created with some usual collaborators, and some unusual (James Signorelli, director of the second episode, also made Elvira, Mistress of the Dark). Scenes set in the same hotel room across eras, an excuse to rifle through the rolodex of interesting actors.

1969: Harry Dean Stanton and his girl Darlene (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) check in, are visited unexpectedly by beardy Lou (Dune). Some kinda twisted psychological game ensues, I think Harry gets conned by Lou, then arrested for the murder of his wife (not Darlene, she’s ok). Written by Barry “Lost Highway” Gifford, but the only thing usually marking this as Lynchian is the Badalamenti music.

1992: Deborah Unger (The Game) has her girls over (Mariska Hargitay of Lake Placid, Chelsea Field of Dust Devil), is gonna confront her man and ask for a commitment. Griffin Dunne arrives but instead of committing, he dumps her, and Unger bonks him pretty hard on the head. Written by Jay “Bright Lights Big City” McInerney.

1936: More spectral than the others, Oklahoma couple Crispin Glover and Alicia Witt (Dune, Cecil B. Demented), conversing very slowly in a blackout. “I saw you on the other side… but it wasn’t you.” They’re in the city so she can see a doctor. She can sorta remember that they had a child who died Don’t Look Now-style, but she remembers a neighbor getting run over really clearly, and Glover follows with a story of a navy buddy who died. After a phone call, the room and the wife become enlightened.

Dr. Robert Powell (Ken Russell’s Mahler) arrives at the titular asylum to work for Dr. Starr, but is met by his assistant Patrick Magee instead. Magee says Starr is now a patient, locked safely upstairs with a trusty electrical system controlled by this button (I’ve heard that one before), and challenges Mahler to correctly identify the doctor. Mahler heroically pads the film on the way upstairs, and the orderly (who I correctly/immediately guessed as the doctor) lets him into each room, one at a time… yes, it’s a corny anthology horror, the same year Magee and Cushing and Dr. Orderly appeared in Tales from the Crypt. 1972 would seem to be too late for this kinda thing, but British people such as Edgar Wright think all this is great.

Bonnie (Barbara Parkins of The Mephisto Waltz and A Taste of Evil) isn’t even the murderer in her story – her boyfriend Richard Todd (the least famous person in House of the Long Shadows) chops up his harpy wife (Sylvia Syms, appropriately of Victim) and puts her in the basement freezer, but her butcher-paper-wrapped body parts reanimate, strangling him and attacking the unwitting Bonnie with the hatchet until the police arrive to blame the whole mess on her.

Tailor Bruno (Barry Morse of The Changeling) was brought the Man in the White Suit material by mysterious customer Peter Cushing, who planned on using dark magick to resurrect his dead son with the suit, but the tailor’s wife puts the suit on a mannequin which comes to life instead.

Barbara (young Charlotte Rampling, whoa) seems the most culpable so far. She starts by blaming Lucy (Britt Ekland of Wicker Man) for murdering her brother (James Villiers of Mountains of the Moon) and the nurse (Megs Jenkins of The Innocents), but Lucy might be an invented personality of Barbara’s.

Dr. Byron (Herbert Lom of The Sect) is at least a doctor of something – I don’t know how we’re supposed to imagine that the previous three were actually psychologists based on their stories. But Lom’s specialty is transmitting his consciousness into sub-Puppet Master wind-up dolls. The new visitor must’ve inspired a rampage, since he and Dr. Orderly go on the attack.

This SHOCKtober we are counting down the days until the new Hellraiser Remake comes out, and starting the celebration with this Clive Barker adaptation. Seems odd that another Books of Blood semi-anthology TV movie would come out so soon after the last one, instead of like a Masters of Horror-style Books of Blood series, or a Weaveworld adaptation, or really anything else. Trying not to focus on the fact that this (smells like content) movie and the new Hellraiser are both “Hulu originals,” maybe there’s still hope.

Kicking off the anthology framing story, hitmen Yul Vazquez (War of the Worlds) and Andy McQueen (Clifton Hill) are after the Book. But we’ll get back to them in a bit – first, Jenna (Britt Robertson of Scream 4) is sad since her parents don’t understand her, is off her meds, runs away since mom is “sending her back to the farm.” Jenna’s x-men superpower is she can loudly hear the sounds of people eating. She stops in an internet cafe and books an airbnb (what year is this?) in a spooky house with hosts Freda Foh Shen (Ad Astra) and Cronenberg regular Nicholas Campbell, has a noise-cancelled sleep paralysis nightmare and pukes CG bugs, then discovers the walls are full of people (“we relieved them of their eyes and tongues”).

You’d be depressed too if you lived in this house without curtains:

Airbnb hosts:

Next, a professional fraud-debunker (Anna Friel, not of Stephen King’s IT, but of Pierce Brosnan’s I.T.) is confronted by a “speaker for the dead” (Rafi Gavron: Aarfy in a previously-unknown Catch-22 miniseries). This guy seems to be the real thing, and Anna is convinced until he drunkenly admits his scam. Alas, the dead have highways, and the boy gets cut up by ghosts, becoming the valuable “book” the stupid hitmen think they’re looking for. And the depressed girl from part one goes back to the spooky house to be relieved of the burdens of seeing and speaking and be buried alive in their floor.

Have I mentioned that the dead have highways?

From the producers of Stallone’s Lock Up, King’s Dark Tower, King’s Bag of Bones, the Barker Dread, Final Destination, Unstoppable, Cabin in the Woods, and Family Guy (those are all different producers). The director worked with a more distinguished cast than this one on the series Cosmos, aka that show everyone thought I was talking about when I used to recommend the Zulawski movie.

An animated anthology released on netflix, so almost everyone has seen it according to letterboxd stats (as many as Kimi, 3x more than Phoenix or Mad God, 5x more than Downton Abbey 2 or Beavis & Butthead 2) and practically none of the critics/publications I follow have covered it. It got a TV movie nomination at Annecy, winning second place to a short called My Year of Dicks. All three are stories about absolutely doomed attempts at house renovation, something a lotta people can relate to, and it’s all extremely high-quality work.

1. After a visit by some shitty rich relatives, dad goes outside drunk and sad and makes a midnight deal with the satanic spirit of a phantom architect to build the family a glorious new house. The house comes fully furnished, with daily meals and newfangled electric lighting, but after they move in the house starts changing, the architect making “adjustments.” The kids find their old house in the basement of the new house, then crawl lost through the walls, while the parents go mad, burning all their old stuff in a trance then transforming into furniture. The baby falling down the stairs was a rare action highlight.

Small faces on big fuzzy heads, and an all-star cast: the little girl is Mia Goth, her dad is Matthew Goode (crazy uncle of Stoker), and the architect’s rep is Mark Heap. The previous mid-length movie by directors Emma De Swaef & Marc James Roels won awards at Toronto and Annecy.


2. A flipper/investor mouse has fired his construction crew, is working on a renovation by himself during a recession. As soon as the house is finished he discovers a beetle infestation, which he tries to hide during the open house (at which he’s the only one wearing the little shoe-booties). An Odd Couple loves the house and decides to sleep there, then takes it over without paying – they turn out to be supermutant rat forms of the beetles. He goes mad, of course. As a new homeowner myself, I’m not concerned about this at all, nope.

Director Niki Lindroth von Bahr is Trevor’s Stockholm neighbor. I thought I’d seen all her shorts (though I’ve only written up Tord & Tord) but I’m just learning of a recent one; see below.


3. Cat Rosa is having a bad time fixing up the apartments she rents out, because the tenants don’t pay. It turns out new-agey tenant Helena Bonham Carter has a hippie handyman boyfriend, and Rosa is thrilled when he offers to help out. But he’s removing the floorboards to build a boat. The hippies turn out to be right, Rosa in denial, as rapidly rising water levels have doomed the house (actually it sails away too, providing the anthology an unearned happy ending).

Lead cat is Susan Wokoma of a Sherlock Holmes teen spinoff series, the broke artist Will Sharpe of The Wrong Door, and the handyman Paul Kaye of Game of Thrones. Director Paloma Baeza also acts, is married to Alex Garland.


Bonus short:
Something to Remember (2019, Niki Lindroth von Bahr)

Feels like The Burden part two. A continuous dreary song of hopeless depression, begun by a child in the first scene, continued into each subsequent scene by a character who was present in the previous one – from an empty zoo, through a mattress store and doctor’s office, culminating in nuclear disaster. Pretty catchy song actually, but the delightful innovation here is the clothing design on the birds, moles, beetles and slugs. Funny, the opening shot made me think of Roy Andersson, and Indiewire says she works with Roy’s set designer.

Searching for Josephine Decker I found an unusual anthology – five filmmakers adapting each other’s dreams. The introduction guy recommends watching in a trance state.

Black Soil, Green Grass (Daniel Patrick Carbone, dreamed by Wolkstein)

B/W forest fire tower, a couple wearing big headphones while she sings in (Italian?). They even bathe with ear protection, to not hear destructive sheep-counting announcements coming from the tower – shades of A Quiet Place or Pontypool. Our dude keeps getting distracted by insects, but finally destroys and replaces the man in the tower. Nice tape-dubbing montage in this.

First Day Out (Josephine Decker, dreamed by Baldwin)

A big jump to color, long-take camera roving through a house of dancers, with fun choreographed camera movements and match cuts. Conversation about court trial and jail. Long takes with each dancer in their own style reminds of the heights of Climax.

Beemus, It’ll End in Tears (Lauren Wolkstein, dreamed by Bodomo)

Coach Beemus seems sensitive in one-on-one but yells “enjoy the pain!” in groups. “This is not a drill” – he prevents them from leaving when the fire alarm goes off – “your bodies will protect you.” Maybe accurate to the feeling of the dream, but it’s no fun spending time with a shouting high school gym teacher.

Everybody Dies! (Nuotama Bodomo, dreamed by Decker)

A 4:3 VHS game show hosted by Ripa the Reaper, who seems to be fighting the producers/network. Her line “especially if you are Black” cuts to “Please Stand By” color bars. After killing a bunch of children, Ripa repeatedly fails to do herself in, doomed to star in the next episode.

Swallowed (Lily Baldwin, dreamed by Carbone)

A family goes shopping then back home. When baby feeds, mom has a disassociative mirror/light reverie, with horror-film skin effects. A kebab and corndog party devolves into mute psychosis, then the next day mom has an extreme milk-fueled kitchen freakout.

I already know Decker… Baldwin has danced with David Byrne… Bodomo is from Ghana, made Afronauts and wrote for Random Acts of Flyness… Carbone produced We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (that movie’s director produced this) and Chained for Life… Wolkstein made The Strange Ones (I’ve seen the short version), is working on a Dead Ringers remake (oh no).

Back in theaters for this one. I love going into Wes movies with absurdly high expectations, because he always meets them. I’ll read the hater critics some other time – maybe they were looking for something more than an endless parade of favorite actors and impeccable production design, but I wasn’t. Much of the movie is in 4:3 black and white, and either my screening was over-matted or the titles appear at the extreme top and bottom of frame.

Bookending segments in the newspaper office, with editor Bill Murray alive in the first piece and dead in the second. Bicycle tour through the town of Ennui by Owen Wilson. Story 1 is relayed by Tilda Swinton, involving art dealer Adrien Brody patronizing imprisoned painter Benicio del Toro whose guard/model is Léa Seydoux (they get some actual French people in here sometime). I was least involved in the middle piece, about faux-May’68 student revolutionary Timothée Chalamet’s affair with reporter Frances McDormand. Then Jeffrey Wright is reporting on celebrated police chef Steve “Mike Yanagita” Park, who helps foil a plot by Edward Norton to kidnap chief Mathieu Amalric’s son.

Michael Sicinski (Patreon) also liked the Benicio story best:

By contrast, Anderson’s snotty riff on May ’68, “Revisions to a Manifesto,” succumbs to the director’s worst comedic instincts, essentially declaring that political desire is nothing more than sublimated horniness … The final segment, “The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner,” sort of splits the difference, although it is elevated considerably by a fine performance from Jeffrey Wright, channeling James Baldwin as a melancholy ex-pat uncomfortable with his journalistic distance. The story itself is mostly just a riff on The Grand Budapest Hotel‘s portrait of courtly civility as a bulwark against anarchy. But it’s Wright’s representation of honest inquiry, and humanistic curiosity, that makes it far less silly than it should be.

Watched again a month later, with Katy this time.

One of two new Hamaguchi movies. I wasn’t over the moon like I was with Asako, but these kinds of dramas are refreshing, and he’s playing with the same kinds of identity issues, and his next one is a Haruki Murakami adaptation, so I should keep up with these.

No time or screenshots, so briefly, it’s three 40-minute short stories. First, Hyunri likes a new guy, tells her model friend Kotone Furukawa about it in a cab, Kotone realizes it’s her ex Ayumu Nakajima and confronts him at his office. Next, a bitter ex-student of an award-winning professor Kiyohiko Shibukawa (a minor Miike regular) sends his girlfriend Katsuki Mori to seduce the prof and get him into trouble, which ends up fucking over everyone involved. Finally, after a megavirus has knocked out the internet (!), former classmates attend actual reunions again instead of liking/blocking each other on facebook. Kawai Aoba sees old friend Urabe Fusako and their catchup meeting turns into wistful reminiscence and play-acting when it turns out they never knew each other.

Vadim Rizov in Filmmaker:

Wheel is greater than the sum of its individual stories, building an intricate system of echoes across three stories of frustrated relationships, each told in three or four long scenes, primarily in prolonged interior exchanges between two characters … the structure and tone were directly inspired by Eric Rohmer’s 1995, three-part anthology film Rendez-vous in Paris.

I heard about a Jonathan Rosenbaum lecture series on 1950’s cinema, and thought it’d be fun to catch a couple nights, using it as an excuse to watch the titles on the schedule I hadn’t seen before (this and Bitter Victory). We watched the movies on our own, then met for the discussion. I sat in bed with a beer, imagining joining hundreds of others watching a J.Ro performance from a stage or lecture hall somewhere, but whoops, there were only ten of us for a cameras-on small-classroom situation.

It’s an anthology feature, the first and third segments (and I think the framing pieces on a cruise ship) by Reinhardt (a former Lubitsch protege). Part one is about Moira Shearer doing what Moira Shearer does best – but the wrinkle is she has a heart condition and can’t dance or she’ll die. But she says she can’t live without dancing – so, very Red Shoes, but also brings to mind Le Plaisir, an anthology film from two years earlier which also opened with a dancer collapsing. Shearer sneaks away from her keeper Agnes Moorehead and meets theater director James Mason, who is writing a whole new dance around her style, and this all ends in tragedy but it’s fun while it lasts.

Upsetting my auteurist preconceptions, the Minnelli segment in the middle was my least favorite – in part because it’s starring and narrated by an obnoxious little boy (oh no, this is 12-year-old Ricky Nelson, only 6 years before Rio Bravo). He detests his governess Leslie Caron (soon after debuting in An American in Paris) who reads mushy French poetry all day, so a witch (late-career Ethel Barrymore) agrees to make him grown-up for one night so he can experience independence. But when he’s grown-ass Farley Granger, he suddenly develops a taste for French poetry and for Leslie Caron.

Ricky and the witch:

Granger in the best scene, not with Caron but with… Zsa Zsa Gabor!

In the final story, disgraced acrobat Kirk Douglas rescues suicidal bridge jumper Pier Angeli, then since he needs a new trapeze accomplice and since she has nothing to lose, he trains her for his next big act. Most of the rest of the movie is these two being impossibly fit, doing legit aerial stunts. I don’t buy a single thing in this segment, but it has a good ending and it’s great fun. The Reinhardt segments really shine by showcasing talented people exercising their skills.

Aside from the movie – after all the books and articles I’ve read by Rosenbaum, finally I’m seeing him live, in an underlit room on a Zoom meeting, talking about orgasms. As to whether the film seemed hokey, “it’s the kind of hokiness I’d like to take a bath in.” Reinhardt and the actors were discussed, and the stories and why/whether they succeeded, and realism. The part that got me was his talk about existentialism, which apparently does not mean what I’d assumed it meant, the stories being all about the present tense. “The fact that you exist is more important than why you exist.”