Watched on beautiful 35mm at Plazadrome, antidote to the DCP Blues. The culmination of Woo’s HK career before he moved to Hollywood and had to make movies with Van Damme and Travolta and Lundgren for a decade. Chow Yun-fat’s first obstacle at the bird bar is machine-gunner Jun Kunimura (most recently seen as the filmmaker friend in Audition, but he’s in everything). His partner is killed, so Chow stays on the arms dealer case. The cops have got informant Little Ko, who cashes out after directing them to the illegal armory beneath a city hospital, and undercover agent Tony Leung, who teams up with Chow. Leung betrays Kwan Hoi-San (a ship captain in Project A) to get close to big boss Anthony Wong (the year before Heroic Trio). Wong’s lead muscle Mad Dog (played by one of the Five Deadly Venoms) fires more bullets and throws more grenades than anyone else here (or anywhere). Teresa Mo (who costarred with Sammo Hung a year earlier) attempts to save the babies while Wong plots to blow up the hospital (hospital bombings are in fashion these days).

Before this, also on 35mm, was In the Mouth of Madness. Given my particular tastes, it’s an even more perfect movie than Hard-Boiled, though it doesn’t feature anybody firing two guns whilst jumping through the air AND holding a baby. Movie connections: Freddy’s DeadStranger Than FictionThe Empty Man.

Dry run for Prince of Darkness, both movies kicking off with a priest finding a hidden book. It’s said that when the fog returns, ghost sailors will rise up in revenge for some lighthouse-related incident that sunk them. This is of particular concern for Adrienne Barbeau, a radio DJ who broadcasts from the old lighthouse, and for drunk priest Hal Holbrook whose grandfather stole the dead sailors’ gold.

DJ Barbeau:

It’s all nice looking, but feels almost British in gathering a gaggle of actors for a pretty okay ghost story, or like a “John Carpenter for Kids” TV movie since its framing device is ol’ ship captain John Houseman telling stories around a campfire. Who else we got: Jamie Lee Curtis, typecast as a hitchhiker, picked up by good guy Tom Atkins. Janet Leigh is celebrating the town’s anniversary with Halloween regular Nancy Kyes organizing. The weatherman is named Dan O’Bannon, heh.

Curtis and Atkins:

Leigh and Holbrook:

Rewatching some barely-remembered Carpenter movies this month, and this one turned out much better than The Fog. Science vs. Satan as priest Donald Pleasence unlocks an ancient chamber with a swirling green portal inside, and calls in a team of professors (who bring along their grad students) to attempt to halt the apocalypse. We know that’s at stake since they all have the same night visions (“you are receiving this broadcast as a dream”). As the church starts to attract worms, insects, and dirty weirdo humans seemingly led by Alice Cooper, the teams inside get to work analyzing and translating.

When the ancient texts of mysterious origin say that Jesus was a humanoid alien, evil is a real physical substance, and the son of satan is locked in the chamber, lifelong priest Pleasence is quick to discount all Christianity and believe this new thing. The green chamber shoots foul liquid at Meg-Ryanish Susan, who becomes evil and starts to kill people or drive them outside using plagues of beetles. Translator Lisa also gets juiced, oh no, then Kelly with a cross-shaped bruise absorbs the remaining liquid and becomes very evil indeed, looking for a mirror through which she can pull Satan into the world. Pleasence and student Catherine team up to stop this, but Cath falls through the mirror, in one of Carpenter’s most astounding scenes. Apocalypse not averted, now the dream transmissions show a possessed Cath standing menacingly in the “Saint Godard” church doorway.

Great music, of course. Our university group includes Victor Wong and Dennis Dun, both of Big Trouble in Little China. Doomed redhead Cath is Lisa Blount of Dead & Buried and Radioactive Dreams, her sad mustache boyfriend is Jameson Parker of White Dog. The first girl to get juiced is Anne Marie Howard of identical twin thriller Twinsanity, the girl who becomes very evil is Susan Blanchard of Russkies, and the Black Guy Who Does Not Die First is Jessie Lawrence Ferguson of Darkman.

I’ve either never seen Christine before, or like Carpenter’s Starman, I may have seen it on network television in the 1980’s. Watched at Alamo on 35mm with The Car, and the best part of the double-feature is that they pasted the two film descriptions onto one page without bothering to revise, the Christine blurb arguing that the film is “masterful” and “brutally underrated,” and the other writeup saying The Car is totally badass and that Christine is “a total puss.”

Arnie (Keith Gordon, director of Mother Night) is the very nerdy, bullied friend of sporty dude Dennis (John Stockwell, also a director now). We meet Christine in 1957 claiming two victims while still on the assembly line, and Arnie sees it all junked up in 1978 and gets obsessed, buys it and moves it into a garage to restore. Later the seller (named LeBay, not quite LaVey, played by the next-door neighbor in Home Alone) admits that his brother’s whole family died in the car, so Dennis gets suspicious – more so when Arnie’s enemies start dying in unexplained accidents. Meanwhile, Arnie is looking late-50’s slick, has stolen the girl (Alexandra Paul of the Dragnet movie) whom Dennis liked, and Dennis is injured in a football game, so the cool/lame friends get reversed.

Chief tormentor is the extremely Travolta-looking Buddy, who sneaks into the garage with his boys to murder the car. Arnie takes this badly, acting like a shitter (the movie’s insult of choice) to his girl and his parents. The movie has been a disappointing teen drama shot with too many closeups until Buddy’s overweight henchman Moochie (of video store horror section standbys Popcorn and The Curse) gets killed in retaliation. He’s chased by Christine into an alley where the car can’t fit, but it scrunches in, destroying itself to splatter Moochie. Next it hunts the others down, blows up a gas station killing a couple guys, then runs down Buddy while on fire. Finally it drives to the garage, implodes to crush the curious garage owner (and Arnie’s surrogate father who’s been giving him odd jobs: Robert Prosky, the big bad in Thief), then fixes itself good as new overnight. Eventually the friend and the girl show up to save Arnie, battle the car with a tractor and win, the final line: “God I hate rock and roll.”

Also featuring investigating officer Harry Dean Stanton (the year before becoming a legend with Repo Man and Paris, Texas), Arnie’s supercold superbitch mom Christine Belford (a nazi villain in the 1970’s Wonder Woman series) who I’m surprised didn’t get car-murdered, and as the school hottie, Kelly Preston (future wife of the real Travolta). I guess if you’re stuck with Stephen King’s Christine, you do what you can – at least Carpenter wasn’t assigned Cujo.

In 1966 Oregon, Kristen (Amber Heard of Drive Angry 3-D) burns down a house, is arrested, sent to The Ward at a psychiatric hospital, given mean looks from the nurse and orderly, but patience from the doctor (Jared Harris, the guy who isn’t Iggy Pop or Billy Bob Thornton in my favorite scene of Dead Man). She gradually gets to know her fellow patients, none of whom are real because the movie has a massive Tyler Durden ending. The ghost story (“Alice is killing us one by one”) and murder mystery (“who killed Alice?”) are all Kristen/Alice coming to terms with her identity, after some traumatic shit went down in that farmhouse from earlier.

Here’s Meryl Streep’s daughter again (as Emily, the one who also wants to escape) with much more to do than in Larry Crowne. We’ve also got Danielle Panabaker (of Friday the 13th Remake) as Sara the sexy one, Laura-Leigh as Zoey the girly pigtails one, and Lyndsy Fonseca (of the Femme Nikita TV show) as Iris the smart one. Some traumatic electroshock therapy and murder by medical instruments, the most easily-escapable psych ward ever, and the non-MST3K version of Bert I. Gordon’s Tormented on a television set.

It’s all pretty boring, an average 2010-era teen shock-horror flick, sub-Drag Me To Hell, except for one cool bit at the end with editing to the beat of the doctor’s metronome.

This post has been released under the Movie Journal Amnesty Act of March 2011, which states that blog entries may be short and crappy, since I am too busy to write up proper ones.

Machete (2010, Robert Rodriguez)

I loved the Machete fake trailer in Grindhouse, but felt R.R. was stretching the joke too far by making this. It didn’t get stellar reviews, so I skipped it in theaters. Oops. So wonderful, probably better than Planet Terror. Baddies Robert De Niro, Steven Seagal and Jeff Fahey all get brutally killed, along with Cheech Marin and about two hundred others. I don’t know how Rodriguez stays on the cool/fun side of the campy comic-action tightrope, instead of stumbling like Sukiyaki Western Django or falling clear off like Tokyo Gore Police. Dude is good.

Hatchet 2 (2010, Adam Green)

Ugh, a boring waste of time. Good for you if you make a self-aware, post-Scream horror movie full of fun references, movie veterans and tons of humor and gore. But boo on you for throwing away all accumulated goodwill on an obvious rehash sequel. Boooooo.

Frozen (2010, Adam Green)

Watched to give Green another chance after Hatchet II. Full of “why don’t they try…” and “why wouldn’t they just…” moments, and I thought the cinematography was boring, but the story and acting are undeniable… quite a good little horror flick.

In the Mouth of Madness (1994, John Carpenter)

When bad horror gets me down, I like to watch this again. It’s clunky at times and likes to montage itself (each cool shot is shown three times or more) but Sam Neill is great, and it’s one of few horrors I’ve seen that takes its Lovecraftian apocalyptic premise all the way to a satisfying conclusion.

Barres (1984, Luc Moullet)

A whole movie about dodging payment in the Paris subway – only 15 minutes long with no spoken dialogue. Cute and instructive. Told myself I’d finally check out Moullet but this is all I’ve gotten to so far.


Beauty and the Beast (1991, Gary Trousdale & Kirk Wise)

Watched with Katy. What’s this new cleaning song doing in here? Must all Disney movies have a cleaning/work song?

The Clash: Westway to the World (2000, Don Letts)

A member of Big Audio Dynamite makes an interview film with some concert footage about The Clash. Very conventional, would’ve rather read The Clash’s wikipedia page and watched a full concert DVD.

Marty (1953, Delbert Mann)

The TV version from that rad Criterion DVD. I enjoyed Mann’s smooth Jimmy Stewart voice on the DVD commentary. He died two years before the DVD came out. A big shot in television through the early 50’s, he started working in cinema beginning with the film version of Marty, reaching the heights of a Cary Grant/Doris Day rom-com in ’62, then by the early 80’s he came back full-time to TV. Written by Paddy Chayefsky, acclaimed for this and Network, and also surprisingly the author of Altered States.

I’m still not clear on the kinescope process – so it was a camera aimed at a TV screen during broadcast? And this was done by the network, not by some enthusiast at home with a proto-VCR setup? And it was set up for time-shifting to the west coast? How did they get the film developed and send it to LA in an hour? Is the kinescope the reason why lateral camera moves make the movie suddenly looks like I’m watching it inside a cylinder?

“Girls: Dance with the man who asks you. Remember men have feelings too.” Marty is bored, has no luck with ladies, finally meets one who is his own speed. Meanwhile his mother is worrying over him and his aunt is moving in and his friends are telling him to forget the girl. Will love conquer all? Yes. A very small-scale but wonderful movie.

Rod Steiger would go on to star in Run of the Arrow and In The Heat of the Night, and more importantly, as the warmongering general of Mars Attacks!. He was recast as Borgnine in the feature film, but his mother and aunt made the cinema transition – the mother (Esther Minciotti) also played mother to Cornel Wilde and Henry Fonda in Shockproof and The Wrong Man, respectively. I had to subtitle her thick accent at times on the DVD here.

Parks & Recreation season 1

Now maybe I’ll be able to remember who Amy Poehler is, even though I’ve seen her in four movies. Also good to see Aziz again after Human Giant, but this was surprisingly not too funny/brilliant a season. Things have already picked up at the start of s2, so hopes are high.

Lars/Real Girl’s well-meaning brother Paul Schneider is low-key ladies’ man Mark. Nick Offerman of The Men Who Stare at Goats is mustachioed manager Ron. Bored receptionist April is Aubrey Plaza, a minor hostile character in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Poehler’s new friend Ann is Rashida Jones, the lawyer (?) who talks to Mark Zuckerberg after-hours in The Social Network, and her boyfriend Andy is Chris Pratt of nothing I’ve seen yet.

Saxondale season 1

Steve Coogan plays less of a buffoon than usual, actually kind of a bright and capable guy. He’s not super classy though, an ex-roadie for various rock groups turned independent exterminator with anger management issues, with a new young assistant whom he and his wife Mags (Ruth Jones of Little Britain and Nighty Night) somewhat adopt. Not a masterpiece of a show, but a happy diversion with some sharp comic bits.

Stella (2005)

The only season of Michael & Michael & David Wain’s show. Once I learned to tolerate how awful and stupid it is, I started to appreciate its stupid, awful, brilliant sense of humor. Or maybe I’m just stupid. Still to see: Michael & Michael Have Issues and rival series Wainy Days. Plus I never watched Reno 911, and maybe Viva Variety will come out on DVD some day.

Flight of the Conchords season 2
The Mighty Boosh season 2

These two are currently competing for best musical comedy series of the decade. Metalocalypse doesn’t stand a chance. Conchords may have the edge, because the music in Boosh season 2 was less prominent and awesome than in its first season.

A remake (of the Hawks film which I liked very much) which is about to be remade, ha!

Little did I realize when I watched this right after “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” that it was written by Burt Lancaster’s son. Starred rugged Kurt Russell as an alcoholic helicopter pilot and a buncha people whose names I vaguely know like Wilford Brimley and MST3K fave Richard Dysart.

Ancient alien organisms are dug up by Swedes and escape (within a dog) to American Arctic base. Dog sprouts killer tentacles and wipes out the other dogs, then starts to assimilate the other men… but which men? Turns into a body-snatcher paranoia movie and a “cold” war (ha!) with totally badass makeup effects by Rob Bottin, Stan Winston and a huge team of fangoria-reading dudes. Nice widescreen, with unexceptional music by Ennio Morricone.

I was proud of Carpenter and young Lancaster that the black guy who plays his music too loud was NOT the first one to die, and in fact lived almost to the end. The other suspicious-acting black guy “lives” at the end, along with Kurt, both about to freeze to death having hopefully been successful in eliminating the creature in all of its forms.

Jimmy brought beer. Thanks, Jimmy.

Movie starts and I am happy. Remote women’s clinic picks up a girl in trouble, then her father, a possibly dangerous anti-abortion religious nut with three gun-happy sons, drives up. Window rolls down… it’s Ron Perlman! You do not mess with Ron Perlman!


Turns into a precinct/assault movie, which I have no problem with, but uh oh, where’s the horror? Oh, the girl was raped by demons, and her demon baby is about to be born (spoiler: it’s a flesh-colored spider with a doll head) and nothing can stop that and its demon father will rise up from the ground to claim the baby!


So, pretty stupid. I could at least forgive it that, but that twice, twice!, a character (perlman, one son) comes up against the demon in a hallway of the clinic during the assault, gives an uh-oh look, camera cuts to demon looking all demony… then nothing. Did that low-rent demon suit not offer enough freedom of movement to take a swipe at a guy’s head? Anything? Anyway, girl shoots her baby and demon wanders off. Movie manages not to be an adequate comment on abortion, religion, clinics, fanatics, motherhood or demons.

Percussive score written by Carpenter’s son is the worst movie music I’ve heard since Goblin was in business.

Movie still gets points for having Ron Perlman in it.

Best Masters of Horror episode yet. Why? The story is outrageous and fascinating and twisty, the visuals are always exciting, and UDO KIER co-stars.

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Theater owner who owes big money to the father of his dead wife takes on job from eccentric millionaire UDO KIER to find the rarest film of all time, an angelic snuff film that makes its viewers go homicidally insane. The director’s wife gives up the film easily, and he brings it to Udo who, despite having already imprisoned one of the angels, is still unprepared for the film and signals this by feeding his intestines into the projector. The cigarette burns of the title are jolting, and our man loses track of things each time one hits. Only time besides Fight Club I can think of those things really being discussed. Never thought they’d be the title device in a horror movie.

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Katy wouldn’t have liked this one, though she expressed an unusual interest in it.