Wednesday, October 31, 2012

31 Weird Tales: The Legend of Hell House

The film is often dismissed as a classless key party gloss on The Haunting, but there's quite a bit going on here. For one thing it's one of the saddest films I've ever seen. Sad at how inescapable the past is, sad at how we often hurt the worst the ones who love us the most, and sad at how we would not be quite so helpless in the face of evil if we would actually work together on occasion. The melancholy gives the pulp a strange dignity, and the whole affair is of a kind with that breed of seventies horror. The kind that feels cheap or forgettable on first pass, but somehow settles into your skin, like dust from an old house, leaving you troubled well into the night... Happy Halloween everybody.

Monday, October 29, 2012

31 Weird Tales: Portrait of Jennie

A ghostly love story that climaxes with a fateful hurricane this is a beautiful forties studio film. In superb black and white, capturing the chilly beauty of winter and Joseph Cotton and Jennifer Jones giving marvelous performances as the star crossed pair. Perfect to curl up to with a hot drink as the winds rage outside.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

31 Weird Tales: The Horrors of Spider Island

It made for a grand episode of MST3K but the movie on its own is a hoot and a half too. A raft full of showgirls wash ashore a seemingly deserted island after a plane crash, only to discover strange webs and the unfortunate effect a spider bite has on their manager. The grainy black and white and European cast ad a strange air of surrealistic wonder, as if Ingmar Bergman had decided to shoot a nudie cutie.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

31 Weird Tales: The Dark Crystal

Jim Henson's splendid children's film that doesn't flinch from the terrors adventure can bring. An amazing production design and character work create something truly enchanting.

Friday, October 26, 2012

31 Weird Tales: Exorcist II: The Heretic

One of the most horrifying films of all time births one of the unsung comedy classics of the 70s. John Boorman is a wonderful director but he absolutely hated The Exorcist, and it shows. Gone is the stark simplicity and Roman Catholicism of the premise, instead papered over with strobe lights, steel dove cotes, New Age consciousness and earth toned Protestant mysticism all wrapped up in one ridiculous tap dancing bag. Call me by my dream name and recommend it to your friends.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

31 Weird Tales: Kwaidan

Beautiful anthology of Japanese ghost stories. Ones which for all their supernatural trappings turn on very keen understandings of human nature. "The Woman of the Snow" is a particular highlight.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

31 Weird Tales: Phantom of the Paradise

It has a cult, but De Palma's glam forked tongue at the music industry deserves a much larger one. Instantly dated in amber with the songs and the fashions and timeless in the age of American Idol and a dozen other watch how the sausage is made shows. Standing room only, and watch out for that plunger. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

31 Weird Tales: Night Creatures

Marvelous semi-swashbuckling business from Hammer. Peter Cushing plays the lovable village parson who is in no way a notorious pirate who escaped the hangman's noose and has settled into a comfortable retirement of teaching the village how to smuggle contraband across the marshes that surround them. An indecently young and good looking Oliver Reed is on hand to be the romantic lead and the antagonists are suitably boorish. What a pity this didn't spawn a series, I must check out the Disney versions soon...

Monday, October 22, 2012

31 Weird Tales: The Thing With Two Heads

A wickedly fun bit of nonsense from the fine folks at AIP. A rapidly decaying Ray Milland plays a diabolical doctor determined  to cheat death. He attaches his noggin to wrongly convicted death row inmate Grier, who escapes and the chase is on! Milland and Grier have a wonderful, bickering chemistry, it's a shame they didn't make another film together. Funny, and briskly makes sure to not wear out its welcome.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

31 Weird Tales: Plague of the Zombies

The last major zombie film of note before Romero completely redefined the game. And yet of great interest because it carries a social commentary that's become all the more piercing in the age of 1 percent versus the 47 percent. In a charming Cornish village the local Squire has found a most unorthodox, but undoubtedly Bain approved, way to staff his tin mines. Some very fine work from Hammer second stringers, and memorably creepy zombie designs. Occupy the mines and be reminded yet again that the more things change the more the rich find hideous new definitions for "human resources".

Friday, October 19, 2012

31 Weird Tales: The Brain That Wouldn't Die

There are those films for the b movie fan that were your gateway drug, this is definitely one of mine. A fateful encounter with the Rhino VHS MST3K episode that featured it drew me along to the bent and forsaken path I tread this very day seeking out the best of the worst and the entertainingly bizarre the film world has to over. This one is a priceless rhinestone, mad science, closet monsters, femme fatale burlesque dancers, bikini models, and a surprising amount of blood for the time. Make it a night at the drive-in with this one.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

31 Weird Tales: Hatchet For the Honeymoon

A neato late period effort from Mario Bava that prefigures American Psycho by decades as it centers on a suave, charming man who has the unfortunate habit of hacking new brides to pieces on their wedding night. It's Bava's usual beguiling, disturbingly gorgeous touch, shifting moods and motivations with just a tint of light and color. Marvelously cold, save it for Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

31 Weird Tales: The Mummy (1959)

Hammer's take on the undying one is a treat, taking all the good parts from the various Universal entries and leaving the tedium and odious comic relief behind. Anchored by two strong performances, Cushing, and Lee in a nearly wordless role.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

31 Weird Tales: The Company of Wolves

Neil Jordan's wonderfully moody and beautiful version of Angela Carter's novel is a delightfully thorny twist on the werewolf and the Little Red Riding Hood story. In a strange village tucked inside an even stranger forest the wolves howl while stories are told around the fire. Stories that seem to be telling of events long ago that strangely seem to be unfolding right then and there. A canny, and sympathetic, female coming of age tale too.

Monday, October 15, 2012

31 Weird Tales: Starcrash

Disreputable Star Wars cash-ins are my anti-drug, and they don't get much more disreputable than this. Made for approximately ten dollars and apparently written by that guy from Memento as things seem to happen at random and no scene, or line, seems to follow logically from or build on the last. Christoper Plummer manages the most special effect of not bursting into flames from the red hot shame radiating out of him in palpable waves. Set a course for it today.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

31 Weird Tales: Into the Woods

My favorite Stephen Sondheim show, rich and warm and spiky tempered, melancholy, and very funny. The American Playhouse recording of the original Broadway run is one of the best movies of the eighties, certainly its finest musical. Using the stories we grew up on to dive in and wander among the nettles and groves of the human mind and heart it is never treacly or smug. A show to grow with, and careful before you say listen to me...

Saturday, October 13, 2012

31 Weird Tales: 5 Million Years to Earth

Splendid sci-fi from Hammer films. Digging out a new subway stop uncovers something that shouldn't be there, an alien ship, and more precisely an alien ship that has been buried there for millions of years. Professor Quatermass is there to investigate and he soon uncovers a very ancient and very horrifying secret about human origins, and that the ship and it's occupants are not resting so soundly anymore. All of it building to a enervating apocalyptic finale. The marvelous Barbara Shelley is on hand as the professor's assistant. In short, Prometheus done much better, much smarter, and for much less coin some forty plus years ago.

Friday, October 12, 2012

31 Weird Tales: La Belle et La Bete

Cocteau's masterpiece is one of those films that can make one fall in love for good with movies, it certainly did for me. In ravishing black and white with sumptuous production design, its lasting power stems from understanding a film for children does not have to mean a childish film in the least. Lose your way in the woods tonight.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

31 Weird Tales: Demons

A junk food treat from Lamberto Bava. In classic Eurocult fashion it makes little sense but the ingredients are so tasty and juicy the viewer doesn't much mind. A group of fresh meat unwisely accept a golden ticket for a special screening at a very special theater, one that's art directed to an inch of it's life and there might be oozing zombies hiding around the next corner (there definitely are). Enjoy the show, and remember, no screaming.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

31 Weird Tales: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)

A very neat Pre Code horror entry from Paramount. Gleaming in black and white, with the beautiful decadence that was the studio's specialty. Of special notice is Miriam Hopkins as the doomed Ivy, playing her bad girl to the hilt.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

31 Weird Tales: Suspiria

A blood red, royal blue, emerald green, and canary yellow fairy tale with a glass heart. Jessica Harper plays a ballet dancer who makes the fated decision to hone her craft at an academy nestled deep in the Black Forest. And it's not too long before things are doing much more than going bump in the night. Horrific violence has never looked so goregous, and the score from Goblin is practically a living entity of its own. Join this Dance Macabre tonight.

Monday, October 08, 2012

31 Weird Tales: The Shining

Kubrick's magnificently chilly version of Stephen King's novel is unsurpassed in suggesting the isolation and incipient madness of winter. A not really recovering alcoholic takes his family to a Gilded Age hotel to serve as keeper for the off season. The Overlook Hotel is one of cinema's best monsters, not a falling down rattrap it's big, so big, and gold and rich brown, and beautiful. But the lights always seem to glow a bit too brightly in the hallways, the rooms don't quite seem to match, and the hallways seem to end up wherever they please. It's a hungry place, and Wendy Carlos' score underlines its primeval appetites. A winter's tale, for those long nights when the ice seems to have teeth.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

31 Weird Tales: Cronos

Guillermo Del Toro's first full length directorial effort is a masterful spin on the vampire tale. An antiques dealer comes into possession of a strange, beautiful device, it appears to restore youth and health, but at a terrible cost. It's neat to see Del Toro's signature flourishes already in evidence, from things in jars to brave little dark haired girls. With a nifty supporting performance from Ron Perlman as a dying millionaire's no good nephew. Ask for directions to the shop and watch your neck.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

31 Weird Tales: John Carter

Hollywood and critics inexplicably went out for blood with this very fun, suitably pulpy take on Burroughs' A Princess of Mars. Granted the first act is wobbly, Taylor Kitsch as Carter is good but not great, but the movie as a whole is a treat and clearly was director Andrew Stanton's dream project. Well no matter, Lynn Collins makes a wonderful Dejah Thoris and the Martian cities are splendid Art Nouveau inspired creations. Give it a shot for something off model spaceships and metal corridors sci-fi.

Friday, October 05, 2012

31 Weird Tales: They Live

"It hasn't dated at all," is itself a phrase as stale and meaningless now as a squashed half loaf of bread forgotten behind the microwave. But damn, this savage throat punch of the Reagan decade really hasn't dated at all. (Watch the alien/human fundraiser scene and see if you don't impose Romney's 47% video remarks over it.) A wickedly funny tale of aliens slowly siphoning off Earth's resources and keeping the public cowed with subliminal messages ordering them to do such things as "OBEY" and "MARRY AND REPRODUCE" is kept from preachiness by some great, spiky performances by Keith David and Rowdy Roddy Piper.  Chew some bubblegum and get your ass over to this movie.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

31 Weird Tales: Spook Warfare

From Japan comes an absolutely delightful marvel about some local spirits taking on an unwelcome visitor. Yokai are creatures from Japanese folklore that can take the can take the form of anything from a fire breathing turtle man to a pretty girl with a hideous second face on the back of her head. Usually benign, they realize their reputation is at stake when Pazuzu washes ashore to show them what's what and they decide a counter attack is their only hope. A mere synopsis can't do justice to just how wonderfully strange and genuinely other worldly this is. Listen for what goes bump in the night and check it out.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

31 Weird Tales: The Night Walker

William Castle returns to the rich well of legendary actresses in peril with this unjustly ignored entry. It doesn't live up to it's marvelously dreamy opening, with Paul Frees narrating in his best Orson Welles impresson. But it's a solid thriller in the Gaslight tradition with Stanwyck carrying the whole thing to safety. Pleasant dreaming.

(Of note is this Spanish poster, which Del Toro mentioned having an influence on Pan's Labyrinth after being fascinated with it as a child.)

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

31 Weird Tales: Body Double

Brian De Palma ripped the lid off his Id after the massive public finger wagging he got for Dressed to Kill and came back with a radioactive valentine pulsing with love for the movies and an equal disdain for humanity. Rear Window and Vertigo get a tropical colored acid bath and sneer at the camera in De Palma's cheekiest since Phantom of the Paradise. Not content to use the finger in the return, the director's weapon of choice is a large pair of breasts glistening in stage blood. No wonder lead Craig Wasson turned to Jesus after this.

Monday, October 01, 2012

31 Weird Tales: Twins of Evil

31 Weird Tales raises from the grave this year with one of Hammer's most enjoyable late period efforts. Less a tired walk through of vampire gothic-land than a full -throated, beautifully nasty twist of the rack on such witch burners as The Conqueror Worm and Mark of the Devil. Jam full of furious puritans, lead by Peter Cushing in top magnificent bastard form, decadent aristocrats dropping their souls like housecoats for fangs, and bosomy maidens as much as the Pinewood back lot will hold.  It's amazing that something this bleak can be this much rollicking fun, so go ahead and sink your teeth into this with gusto. 

(Many thanks to the fine folks at Riverside Drive-In's Super Monster-Rama for introducing me to this one.) 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hammering Away With Vampire Kisses And Careful With That Ax Oliver Reed

Paranoiac, Hammer adapted to the post Psycho change in horror tastes with an adroitness that would utterly fail them 10 years later. Paranoiac is a condensed bite of Hitch's camera angles and characters harboring secrets and possibly a psychosis or seven. Already a drunken force of nature, Oliver Reed plays a ne'er do well scion terrorizing his family, in particular his his high strung sister. Still grieving over her parents' death and her brother's attendant suicide from 10 years ago, so it can't be good when she starts seeing her departed brother popping up in odd places....

If that seems like the film is going to be a standard Gaslight-tale, whoo boy. In a plot that redefines "byzantine" it changes directions and tones with whiplash speed leaving the viewer hooked if only to find out just what the hell is going on. The cast is solid, but naturally Reed's Gorgon in a suit walks off with the whole thing.

Nightmare, It's that familiar manor house again, full of odd relatives and gamine nurses. The high strung lady in question this time is plagued by nightmares of her childhood witness of her mad mother stabbing her father to death, and the lurking fear insanity will be her birthright too. She returns home, but no sooner does she tuck herself into bed before she spots a ghostly woman in white motioning her to follow...

Once the Mini-Hitchcocks are seen in aggregate it's natural to start mentally combing them into one perfect whole. Paranoiac has Reed's balls out performance, but this is an altogether better film with real sucker punches in reversing who the audience thought they could trust. And some particularly good psychology, and performances, in the disintegrating relationship between the two villains.

Kiss of the Vampire, Neato slightly out of the box vampire tale with the Count in question keeling a rather Romney-ish coterie of vampires in his family cult. The hapless hero's newly wedded wife gets the ball rolling when the Count decides to make her the latest acquisition to his magic bathrobe vampire Amway meetings.

The Van Helsing analogue is something else, Cushing's dapper mannerisms replaced by Clifford Evans'  hard drinking, brash pragmatism.

The Horror of Dracula, I am not, nor will I ever be, comfortable with how attracted I am to Sir Christopher Lee in this movie. That is all.

Brides of Dracula, Lee said Hell No for the first of many times and Hammer went ahead pretty successfully with a Dracula free Dracula sequel. I seem to be more fond of this entry than most. But I rather like its Drac substitute being  an elderly Dowager and her "corrupted" son. Whom, in a vain attempt to control, she's kept locked up at the family castle. Throwing him the occasional unfortunate village girl to sate his thirst. The female Reinfeld is a hoot and Peter Cushing is on hand to be awesome and clean the whole mess up.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Curse of the Bookish Werewolves of the Black Museum: The Musical!

Book rec, Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman. Speaking the secret language of bibliophiles with a warm funny voice this is one of the best essay collections I've read in ages. I'm jittery as an addict to read the rest of her oeuvre.

The Werewolf, the fifties had a cycle of classic monster movies that presented them in modern terms with "scientific" causes for their monstrosities instead of the old gothics' curses and legends. A quite good and unjustly forgotten spin on lycanthropy with what has to be the most sympathetic protagonist in fifties horror. As the hapless werewolf in question happens to be a devoted husband and father with the misfortune to have crashed his car outside the local mad scientist's place.

The scientist is looking to help humanity by regressing us to a more primitive state, as you do, resulting in this very nice gentlemen spending the rest of the picture stumbling around the woods and village of a charming ski country town getting shot at. In a rather neat casting touch the heroic sheriff is played by Don Megowan, who played The Gill Man in The Creature Walks Among Us.

Curse of the Fly, The second sequel to The Fly and much more interested in being a variation on Gaslight and Rebecca than a straight mad science picture. Also important for revealing that Cronenberg studied this one particularly carefully, from the surprisingly grotesque teleport accidents to the doomed romance between the two leads.

The Mad Executioners, Krimi and I definitely need to become better friends. During the fifties and sixties a hooded killer rush happened in West German movies with dozens and dozens of delightfully oddball crime thrillers, usually based on the words of British author Edgar Wallace, tumbling out.

Featuring Byzantine plots, no really, I'm not kidding, think the red herring turns out not be the killer but only because he was committing another murder at the time at the instigation of such and such who is actually the world famous criminal mastermind so and so currently in hiding in a mansion that has a secret passageway a gang of smugglers.... well, you get the idea.

This time around a cabal of self appointed judges are holding trials for killers who escaped justice in the legal system and carrying out the sentence via a rope that is stolen every time from London's Black Museum (you think after a while they'd just stop putting it on display). That is only the very tip of the iceberg of what happens and the rest is a very fun, very convoluted road to figuring out who done it and just what in the blazes the secret trials have in connection with a rash of beheadings (don't ask.)

"Smash" season finale, Couldn't resist one last hatewatch for the road. The touch of having the title card be fully lit up with the strains of the overture starting was a really nice, just imagine if the show had actually earned it. The finale made clear that to its credit, the show is aware of it's problems. But also that it has no intention, or ability to fix them. I will be looking forward to the articles writing up just how abysmal the promised pregnancy subplot is going to turn out to be.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

"That's *what* I've got.": The Hawksian pleasures of The Avengers

An online comment solidified why I liked The Avengers as much as I did; in tone and performances it felt nothing so much as what would happen if Howard Hawks had decided to helm a superhero movie. The film seems to revolve around critic David Thomson's great observation that Hawks seemed to understand like few directors that "[People] are more expressive rolling a cigarette than saving the world." While definitely a corporate created attempt to make a great deal of money the director and co-writer Joss Whedon approaches the material without the slightest bit of condescension, and neither does his cast.

Where too many of the characters' stand alone movies felt like warm up acts, here they are relaxed and droll in their roles, and given room to shape and shade their performances with an embarrassment of one liners that feel organic instead of too precious as can happen with Whedon's dialogue. These are superheroes, literal gods in some cases, but for once they feel like people.

It's a genuine ensemble piece. But perhaps the most Hawks touch is the revitalization of Scarlet Johansson as Black Widow. Little more than leather clad eye candy in her first appearance, here's she's tough, wounded, and warily tender. Revealing a monologue's worth of information in closeups of her thinking and carefully watching the others. She's a complex woman who's rediscovered her humanity and isn't entirely comfortable with that.

Mark Ruffalo gets a screen treatment of The Hulk that's finally more interested in Dr. Banner and rewards it with a performance that is much more interesting than his rampaging alter ego. Rather mordantly funny than drowning in self pity, his performance suggests his continued survival has hinged at his observing that his intolerable circumstances are also kinda hilarious.

They are believably a team and a wobbly first act gels to something wonderful, watching these people talk to and tease each other and come to trust and work together. With a core group that strong the villain could be an afterthought, but Tom Hiddleston is a lethal, bitchy delight at Loki. His barbs and seething resentment as his own ridiculousness making him no less dangerous.

Finally going back to the comment that started it all filmmaker Brandon David Wilson said, "If Avengers fails in visual style I imagine we have to take the oeuvre of Howard Hawks and toss it on the ash heap as well." But the look of the film has that key Hawks ingredient of making the effort not show. The film's colors are bright and beautiful, the action sequences clear and expertly edited.

So it may not be the visual feast of Del Toro's Hellboy movies, but it rewards the viewer's attention with one of the warmest, funniest adventure movies in ages.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

B-Fest 2012: The Fest That Dropped Its Ice Cream On The Yeti And Put It's Weight On It Thought You'd Be Bigger

Well thanks to massive ecological devastation I can't start my b-fest recap with a remark about the blistering cold as it was downright tepid when I arrived. I can however talk about how good it was to see friends old and new, the BMMBers, the locals, the friends of friends, the lovers, the dreamers, and me. But I'm losing track of the thread here so onward.

After the traditional Thursday night tipping back of Tiki drinks at Hala Kahiki we retired to watch the horrifying, and not in a good way, Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf, and took a moment of silence for Sir Christopher Lee's dignity. We parted in good spirits and looked forward to tomorrow.

After a wonderful morning gawking at the wonders in the Field Museum we dutifully made our way to the Norris Auditorium on Northwestern's campus and settled in for cinematic wonders of another sort. The lights dimmed and first up was...

Best of the Best, 80s action nonsense is my anti-drug, and I'm particularly fond of the low rent entries that came late in the decade as the cycle coughed itself out.

Symptomatic of the off kilter feel that characterizes a b-fest flick the Commies have taken a hike so it's US vs. South Korea in a Tae Kwan Do match between a rag tag group of misfits and a team, or in the James Earl Jonsian, TEEEEAM, of seasoned professionals who should be able to kill them just by looking in their general direction.

Eric Roberts and his magnificent of head of hair are on hand to cry a lot, ice cream cones are ruined and redeemed, and James Earl Jones is able to get a nice new extension on his summer house. A terrific start to the evening.

The Astro Zombies, Ted V. Mikel's anti-classic clumsily attempts to combine the police procedural with the mad scientist flick. What the means is a lot, no a lot, still not there, more, yep, that many, shots of clocks, test tubes, and John Carradine attempting to install his stereo. Tura Satana slinks around in some groovy cocktail gowns and nothing happens very slowly. If you must brave this one, don't do it alone.

To Catch a Yeti, Terrible 90s kid flicks have yielded some dark horse favorites for the schedule and this is no exception. What could have been just a 10 years too late made for television riff on E.T. with a little girl and a hideous bug eyed puppet standing in for Elliot and an expensive hideous bug eyed puppet is something quite else thanks to some massively bizarre casting and script decisions.

Meat Loaf plays a tracker sent after the Yeti with all the gravitas called for as if he's auditioning for No Country For Old Men. He's after the creature to secure it for a rich brat. Only they've confused "brat" with "multiple murdering sociopath". Filmed in New York City's famed Little Toronto neighborhood it does not wear out its welcome while providing a more than fair portion of "did I just see that?" moments that b-fest requires.

The traditional midnight screening of Plan 9 Nine From Outer Space had the audience flinging paper plates during the UFO flying sequences with gusto and they were cleaned up just in time to see...

Avenging Disco Godfather, My favorite of the offerings and again the apples and Buicks of the tone is key. This a typical cheeky Rudy Ray Moore movie floating on top of a story about drugs destroying a community as bleak and hopeless as anything out of the more serious side of seventies cinema.

Rudy Ray Moore is the Godfather, former cop, current DJ, and soon to be one man take down squad against the angel dust dealer who is poisoning the locals with his product. Moore's wardrobe is a sight to behold and the drug induced hallucinations of the characters are something out of David Lynch directing an episode of Sanford and Sons. Put yo weight on it and watch it if you haven't.

My brain and body where bailing on me so alas I tripped off into slumber during the reportedly amazing two punch of Death Bed: The Bed That Eats and Tarkan vs. The Vikings, thankfully both are on disc. I awoke to be treated to sound of everyone else sleeping their way through...

Mutant Hunt, Most everyone who didn't sleep through this wished they had but I was oddly charmed by it's utter nullity. Someone attempted to do a reworking of The Terminator and Blade Runner, and the fact that they had only ten dollars and no discernible talent in front of or behind the camera did not stop them.

Set in a futuristic dystopia of empty warehouses and ripped leotards an elite squad of non actors most go after rogue, grossly melting cyborgs. Which they do by standing aside bemusedly while the cyborg kills its latest target. Not much else to stay, only that it comes that near future where there are off world colonies but phones still have cords on them.

Sleep and a walk on the beautiful shore of Lake Michigan claimed me during Guru the Mad Monk and the already seen at a previous fest The Brain From Planet Arous but I made sure to make it back in time to see...

Stunt Rock, A fascinating concoction highlighting the insane feats of Australian stunt man Grant Page. there's a bare handful of story about him traveling to the U.S. to be a stuntman on a TV show but the movie firmly avoids engaging much with it at all and instead had the actors talk about his most dangerous stuns and play set footage of them.

For no clear reason the film decides the best partner for this is a MOR rock group who distinguish themselves with an on stage act involving two magicians dressed as Merlin and the Prince of Darkness hurling fireballs at each other. And again, no plot ever touches these scenes either. It makes for something appealing and would be a good disc to spin in the back ground of a party.

Road House, This had become a cult favorite in recent years and with good reason. Lean mean bouncer machine Patrick Swayze rolls into Jasper, Missouri and sets his sights on cleaning up the Double Deuce, the roughest dive in town. He brings zen koans and shattered knee caps to the people oppressed under the thumb of evil town owner Ben Gazzara. Before long the Deuce is oozing neon tubing, he's bedded the comely town doctor, and Sam Elliot has wandered in needing a paycheck like any of us poor mortals. Remember pain don't hurt, and laughter is the best medicine anyway, so belly up to the bar for a glassful.

And with that the audience fought back against the leaden Werewolf in Girls' Dormitory, the inept The Galaxy Invader, and closed things out with the solid It Came From Beneath the Sea.

And then the lights came up and we blinked in that mixture of sadness and relief that it was over. And as we cleaned up the place we started to formulate our plans as to how we'll all find our way back in here in 2013. Because sure as Rudy Ray Moore hates Aunt Betty, we will.