Glad to see that this holds up. Killer Klowns land in small town and kill almost everybody in extremely circusy ways. Silly, but constantly inventive, with a very high body count and kickass theme song. Looks real good in HD.
The Chiodos have an Alien Xmas special out on streaming this month! Debbie is 80’s horror royalty, also appearing in Return of the Living Dead II and Night of the Creeps. Mike was later in Driving Me Crazy with Billy Dee Williams, and a leprechaun movie from the director of Subspecies. Sympathetic Deputy Dave played DEATHSTALKER in Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell the same year. His shitty, teen-hating cop boss is from Point Blank and Hitchcock’s Topaz. I’m sorry to report that not only did the ice cream truck-driving Terenzi brothers not become major film stars, one of them died this August.
Knowing a bit about Neil Hamburger, and seeing this called “anti-comedy,” I skipped it at the time. Now, after Alverson’s great The Mountain (and seeing Neil in concert telling one of my favorite jokes of the decade), I’m catching up, and… maybe I was right to skip this. I dunno, you’ve got Neil’s whole thing with the dirty jokes, Alverson’s patient formal construction (this time super-widescreen instead of 4:3), Tye Sheridan as a clown – it’s more academically interesting than it is a joy to watch.
Gregg Turkington is on an increasingly sad comedy tour through the desert, stopping in each town between gigs to take whatever local tour they’ve got, then to call his kid, promising he’ll get home. He visits cousin John C Reilly who offers advice on Gregg/Neil’s choice of onstage subject matter: “If you wanna appeal to like, all four quadrants, you know like all the different age groups… semen and all that… it’s a little bit much.” After a heckler attacks him post-show and breaks his glasses, he descends into a deeper nightmare than the one in the movie I just watched called The Nightmare.
Jagjaguwar logo in the credits – composer Robert Donne, whose drone soundtrack was a bit much (so it fit in perfectly here, where everything is a bit much) was in their band Spokane with vocalist Rick Alverson! To get onto Turkington’s wavelength, I watched an episode of his show On Cinema with Tim Heidecker, which I will definitely watch more of.
At end of the last movie, the family was moving from seaside town Tocopilla to Santiago. Mom still sings all her lines, dad is still violent, but this time young Alejandro is the lead character, discovering art and poetry and breaking away from his parents. Just as the kid’s performance is starting to feel limited, we jump a few years so he can be played by Adan Jodorowsky, the filmmaker’s son and director of Echek, for the rest of the film.
The mix of realistic (and not) effects, JR-style retrofitting of modern buildings, dreamlike sets with visible stagehands rearranging furniture, Orpheus references, random nudity, shock color, head shaving, prankster poets, sad clowns and street parades, with the poetry and deaths and parental issues… it all worked for me.
Shot by Chris Doyle! The first I’ve seen from him since The Limits of Control.
Our three lead murderers were definitively killed at the end of The Devil’s Rejects, gunned down in slow-motion, so how will Zombie make a sequel? They’re not dead, they were just wounded, and all better now! Sid Haig, alas, didn’t stay better for long, so he gets a brief scene before being replaced by Baby and Firefly’s half-brother Midnight Wolfman.
A decade after the previous movie ends, Wolfman springs Firefly (they murder a cameoing Danny Trejo along the way), then they threaten the cartoonishly facial-haired warden into freeing Baby, and the three run off to Mexico. That’s about a half-hour’s worth of movie – the rest is them deciding to fuck with strangers, then murdering them, or getting in trouble because strangers recognize them, then murdering them. It’s not a bad movie, surely a step up from the terrible 31, but it’s pretty unnecessary, and there’s no tension – the stakes are always low in a movie where no lives matter. Zombie exercises his TV/film texture fetish in the news footage covering the escaped outlaws, and builds to a big showdown in Mexico when the son of Danny Trejo comes with twenty armed dudes.
The Howling star Dee Wallace plays the vindictive prison guard in chage of Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie, always good in these things). Richard Edson (Sonic Youth, Stranger Than Paradise) is the dude in Mexico who puts them up (and turns them in). Bill Moseley was in about 40 movies between Zombie’s Halloween and this, mostly crappy horrors, and Wolfman Richard Brake played the only person Cage doesn’t kill in Mandy.
Took a few weeks off from movie writing, now let’s see what I can remember about Akira. More than last time, anyway – for ages this was one of those movies I knew I’d seen, but couldn’t recall anything about it (same goes for Ghost in the Shell).
In 2019 Tokyo has rebuilt nicely after WWIII, but music hasn’t progressed much (Led Zeppelin and Cream are visible in a jukebox). Kaneda leads a violent street gang at war with rival bikers in clown suits, and Tetsuo is Ryu’s buddy/stooge. After an encounter with a child-elder mutant escaped from gov’t testing lab, Tetsuo acquires massive psychic powers, which he only uses to cause destruction and taunt his former friends, eventually losing control of his own body, which grows and engulfs everything around. Akira is the name of the most powerful former experiment kid, who may have destroyed Tokyo in the late 80’s – funny how the gov’t didn’t shut down their lab after that. Since I rewatched Fury Road the night before, this was my second movie in a row where someone with a missing arm gets a robotic replacement. Anyway, things don’t end well for poor enraged Tetsuo.
Tetsuo meets Akira:
Based on Otomo’s own comic, the movie was a smash hit in Japan and an enduring cult favorite. Obvious parallels with Godzilla – the original, not the bad version I just watched – and full of extreme violence and nightmare imagery. Somehow it still doesn’t have any sequels or remakes, but with new Blade Runner and Star Wars and Alien and Flatliners and Jumanji movies all out this year, anything’s possible.
What a disappointment after the great Lords of Salem. All I can think is that Zombie was contractually obligated to deliver another full-length movie by the end of 2016, and after touring his band nonstop he ran out of time, so threw some actors and makeup artists in an abandoned factory and said “go nuts, we’ll film it and add some Malcolm McDowell scenes later to explain what’s happening.”
Sheri Moon and beardy Jeff Phillips and Meg Foster return from Salem, minus Ken Foree and Dee Wallace, plus two new black guys to be killed first (to be fair, Lawrence lasts quite a while). Malcolm in foppish powdered wig gambles on annual deathmatch with Jane Carr and Judy Geeson, sending waves of killers into the factory after our abducted carnival gang until only Sheri and “Doom-Head” (Richard Brake of Halloween II, whose makeup keeps changing in the opening scene) remain. Dialogue is mostly “fuck, fuuuuck” and camerawork is handheld garbage. Insultingly, the movie only got a single showtime and was billed as a “special event” with higher ticket fees, but joke’s on the theater since only six people showed up.
31 is set almost entirely within a smoky, leaky, dimly lit factory, like something out of a bad hair-metal video, and it has the structure of an especially half-assed video game, as the survivors creep from one boss battle to the next, confronted by assassins of escalating formidability: a little person done up like Hitler, slinging insults in unsubtitled Spanish; two clowns with chainsaws, cackling about “fucking all your holes”; a flirtatious Harley Quinn clone with a giant European partner … a messy mishmash of shit he’s done better before.
A much weirder movie than I’d expected. Emil Jannings seems drawn to humiliating roles. In The Last Laugh he was fired from his respectable job, laughed at by his neighbors. In The Last Command he has a shocking fall from military/government power, ends up a deflated Hollywood extra. But he’s never fallen further than he does here, from an esteemed professor to a cuckooing cuckold clown, crowing for a crowd.
Little pleasures of early sound films: I love that doors and windows are completely soundproof in this movie – closing one interrupts noise from the adjoining room suddenly and completely. On the other hand, the extreme strictness of employers in Hollywood movies has always bothered me. “I’m sorry friend, but you’ve left me no choice. I must request your resignation,” the principal tells Emil, because the kids made noise and drew on the board, and Emil had a flower in his lapel. And it’s the start of the Depression, so losing your job is a big thing.
Emil discovering Marlene:
Anyway, Emil tries to catch his giggling slacker kids at the local nightclub, as if it’s any of his damn business where they go after class. There he sees dancer Lola (Marlene Dietrich in her star-making role) and falls for her. Emil tries to whisk her away from this sordid life, but instead gets pulled into it himself. A few years later the touring troupe returns to the town where he once lived, and the townspeople flock to see the sad professor, after which he crawls back to his old classroom and apparently dies of shame.
I watched the English version – I think the German is more well-known. Remade a bunch of times, including once by the director of Porno Holocaust.
Sternberg turns in a more assured sound film here than Thunderbolt, though it was supposedly Germany’s first talkie. Acquarello: “Sternberg’s use of stark, hyperbolic imagery to symbolize moral degradation is derived from the German expressionist cinema. The Blue Angel was filmed during the Weimar Republic when the German government, caught in a stranglehold over war reparations, was on the verge of collapse. The film echoes the cynicism and hopelessness of the times.”