Movie Viewing Log 2023: March

1. (33) The Last Broadcast (1998, Stefan Avalos and Lance Weiler)-63, Shudder

2. (34) King Solomon’s Mines (1985, J. Lee Thompson)-75, Tubi

3. (35) Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold (1987, Gary Nelson)-50, Tubi

4. (36) Cocaine Bear (2023, Elizabeth Banks)-90, Theater Viewing

5. (37) Aterrados aka Terrifed (2017, Demián Rugna)-82, Shudder

6. (38) Firewalker (1986, J. Lee Thompson)-70, Tubi

7. (39) Drunken Master (1978, Yuen Woo-ping)-92, Tubi

8. (40) Surf Nazis Must Die (1987, Peter George)-93, Tubi

9. (41) World War Z (2013, Marc Forster), Netflix Instant Viewing

10. (42) Evil Dead Trap (1988, Toshiharu Ikeda)-90, Shudder

11. (43) King Kong Escapes (1967. Ishirō Honda)-75, Blu-ray

12. (44) Scream 6 (2023, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett)-87, Theater Viewing

13. (45) El Camino Christmas (2017, David E. Talbert)-63, Netflix Instant Viewing

14. (46) Killer Elite (2011, Gary McKendry)-76, Blu-ray

15. (47) The Life of Pi (2012, Ang Lee)-92, Public Library DVD

16. (48) Blow-up (1966, Michelangelo Antonioni), Public Library Criterion DVD

17. (49) Class of Nuke ‘Em High (Richard W. Haines, Michael Herz, Lloyd Kaufman), Tubi

18. (50) Evil Dead Trap 2: Hideki (1992, Izo Hashimoto)-81, Shudder

TV Shows Viewed:

1. Miami Vice (S1, Tubi)

2. The Cleveland Show (S1, Hulu)

3. Family Guy (S6, Hulu)

4. Will Trent (S1, ABC via Hulu)

5. X-Men: The Animated Series (S4, FOX via Disney+)

Movie Viewing Log 2023: February

Armed Clowns! Coming soon to FOX.

1. (13) Death Spa (1989, Michael Fischa)-65, Shudder

2. (14) Fear No Evil (1981, Frank LaLoggia)-61, Shudder

3. (15) Nekromantik (1987, Jörg Buttgereit)-35, Shudder

4. (16) Return of the Living Dead Part II (1988, Ken Wiederhorn)-76, Tubi

5. (17) Booksmart (2019, Olivia Wilde)-93, Public Library DVD

6. (18) Born In East L.A (1987, Cheech Marin)-81, Public Library DVD

7. (19) And Soon the Darkness (1970, Robert Fuest)-86, Shudder

8. (20) The Last Horror Film (1982, David Winters)-83, Tubi

9. (21) Nekromantik 2 (1991, Jörg Buttgereit)-45, Shudder

10. (22) Quick Change (1990. Bill Murray, Howard Franklin)-94, Tubi

11. (23) The Three Musketeers (1993, Stephen Herek)-53, Disney+

12. (24) Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (2022, Joel Crawford, Januel Mercado)-92, Theater Viewing

13. (25) Warm Bodies (2013, Jonathan Levine)-83, Peacock

14. (26) Evil Ed (1995, Anders Jacobsson)-87, Tubi

15. (27) The Mansion of Madness (1973, Juan López Moctezuma)-70, Shudder

16. (28) The Magic Voyage of Sinbad (1953, Aleksandr Ptushko)-67, Tubi

17. (29) The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958, Nathan H. Juran)-89, Tubi

18. (30) Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977, Sam Wanamaker)-75, Tubi

19. (31) Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022, Ryan Coogler)-77, Disney+

20. (32) The Prestige (2006, Christopher Nolan)-93, Hulu+

TV Shows Watched:

1. Family Guy (S5, Hulu)

2. Bob’s Burgers (S1, Hulu)

3. X-Men: The Animated Series (S4, Disney+)

Let’s Get Criterion Presents: The Awful Truth (1937, Leo McCarey)

Cary Grant and Irene Dunne are a married couple on the outs in the fun and savvy romantic comedy The Awful Truth. The pair goes their separate ways since they can’t trust one another, yet neither one can help interfering with each other’s love life. Particularly Dunne potentially getting hitched to Ralph Bellamy, who I know mostly from westerns and Trading Places, and who has good comedic timing. He even comes across as likable in this film, despite not being a good match for Dunne.

My major complaint is I wanted a different ending than the movie could give me. I did really like The Awful Truth a lot as both Grant and Dunne had fabulous chemistry together and really felt like a married couple who argue, fight, and act really jealous toward one another. Grant always made acting look easy, and Dunne has a knack for comedy that not all actresses or actors possess. I am glad I got this on Blu-ray as it makes the black and white cinematography look sharper and more focused.

Let’s Get Criterion Presents: Design For Living (1933, Ernst Lubitsch)

So this where Putting On The Ritz got the line about Gary Cooper, who in this film is not a stoic hero but is instead a lovable cad involved in a three way affair with Fredric March and Miriam Hopkins. She becomes their muse and also the source of trouble between the two of them in a delightful comedy of manners that is elegant and about going from struggling artist to successful upper class. However as they say you can take the troublemakers out of of trouble, yet you can’t take the trouble out of the troublemakers. Something like that, I guess.

Ernst Lubitsch created a modern sensibility in the 1930s and Wes Anderson basically copied his shtick. This is my kind of romantic comedy movie, and while it is largely fluff the trio of Cooper, March and Hopkins plus the snappy one liners elevates some of the more thin material. I will most likely see Design for Living again later, perhaps on a gloomy day when I need a fine pick me up. The Blu-ray looks fantastic and as I may have noted before it’s the really old films that benefit the most from these restorations.

Movie Viewing Log 2023: January

Changing things up a bit. TV shows viewed will be listed as well, maybe even repeat watches if I feel like it. This is all the movies I watched for the first time in 2023 for the month of January!

Look at those happy young people

1. The Philadelphia Story (1940, George Cukor)-93, Public Library Criterion DVD

2. Scare Package II: Rad Chad’s Revenge (2022, Alexandra Barreto)-86, Shudder

3. Don’t Open Till Christmas (1984, Edmund Purdom)-75, Shudder

4. A Christmas Horror Story (2015, Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban, Brett Sullivan)-77, Shudder

5. American Graffiti (1973, George Lucas)-94, Public Library DVD

6. Cemetery Without Crosses (1969, Robert Hossein)-87, Tubi

7. Caltiki, The Immortal Monster (1959, Riccardo Freda, Mario Bava)-70, Tubi

8. Heavy Metal 2000 (2000, Michel LemireMichael Coldewey)-55, Tubi

9. M3GAN (2022, Gerard Johnstone)-85, Theater Viewing

10. A Cat in Paris (2010, Jean-Loup Felicioli, Alain Gagnol)-85, Hulu

11. Beyond the Darkness (1979, Joe D’Amato)-73, Tubi

12. Earth Girls Are Easy (1988, Julien Temple)-83, Public Library Blu-ray

Movie of the Month: American Graffiti (1973, George Lucas)

TV Shows:

1. X-Men: The Animated Series (Disney+, S4)

2. Beyond The Dark (Shudder, Season 1)

3. Family Guy (Hulu, S5)

Horrorfest 2022/Let’s Get Criterion Presents: The Devil’s Backbone (2001, Guillermo del Toro)

This was the last movie I watched for my Horrorfest, and I choose wisely. The Devil’s Backbone is a haunting, tragic and bittersweet picture set amongst the horrors and violence of the Spanish Civil War. As I viewed this movie I was reminded that some monsters are very human, which I think runs through a lot of Guillermo del Toro’s work. The man is a master craftsman of dreams and nightmares, fully unafraid to wield magical realism in his cinema. It’s a shame it took the Academy so long to praise his efforts.

Fernando Tielve takes the main character’s role of Carlos and fully runs with it all the way. He is left to survive in an all boys orphanage, bullied at first yet earning the respect of the kids there. Particularly Íñigo Garcés’ Jaime, who he forms a bond with and who is hiding a secret. A ghost is rumored to lurk on the grounds, all while an unexploded bomb sits quietly in the middle of the building. So many metaphors, only so much screen time.

The adults running the place range from saintly, nice, haunted, and wicked. You have Marisa Paredes’ Carmen who runs the place and deals with both scars hidden and obvious. Federico Luppi as Dr. Casares, who cares deeply for both Carman and the boys, yet is older and thus weaker as a result. Irene Visedo plays Conchita, who loves Jacinto (Eduardo Noriega) yet fails to realize he is not a good person until it’s too late. It is the adults who set in motion perilous events that threaten everyone in the orphanage, not the boys who only try to survive.

The ghost scenes in this movie are so effective because they lure you in and then pop up right in your face. There is a keyhole scene that rivals Black Christmas’ one in terms of supreme creep level, and the finale is very suspenseful. I’ll be dwelling on this one a while, and it’s easily one of del Toro’s best movies. It also clearly inspired other later movies, and is a welcome addition to my Criterion collection of Blu-ray’s.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Halloween Ends (2022, David Gordon Green)

Anyone who has bothered to read my reviews knows I’m a fan of the current Halloween trilogy. I’ve seen every single one in the franchise, and I own up to the Rob Zombie ones in a Blu-ray box set I got from Wal-Mart. So I wasn’t too surprised that I enjoyed Halloween Ends. What I didn’t expect is that I would like it the most out of the Gordon Green entries in the series. This is literally if Halloween III had Michael Myers after all, and to me it works despite people complaining that Michael Myers takes a backseat.

Well honestly he kind of has in all of the ones Laurie Strode appears in, save for Halloween Resurrection of course. These movies are as much about Mikey’s victims and the haunted survivors as they are about his murderous rampages. This one gets that aspect especially well, as one Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell in an excellent and creepy performance) is not only shaped by one bad night, but also transformed into something worse. Strode (the always great Jamie Lee Curtis) slowly realizes what is happening, even as she is responsible for Corey meeting her daughter, Allyson.

Andi Matichak by the way doesn’t get enough credit for being excellent in all of these movies, and one can argue she is as much the focus of these ones as her grandmother Laurie. I also am glad that Will Patton pops up again although lucky for his character he doesn’t go after Myers for a change. There is a nice grocery store scene between him and Laurie that ends with Laurie being confronted by one of Myers’s victims in what is a chilling reminder that the boogeyman didn’t kill everyone he crossed paths with. Some were unlucky enough to survive and live with pain and scars.

The film does drag in certain parts, and there’s a lot of flash and style to account for certain scenes that lack substance. However the movie has a fantastic mix of original score and movie soundtrack picks, and I’m greatly amused at how one group of people literally exist as victims you don’t mind seeing die horribly. If anything that’s the issue folks have with slasher movies, that we end up rooting for the killer as much as we do for their potential victims trying to survive. Yet that’s maybe an element we could focus on more, how so many of us eagerly go see movies like Halloween Ends.

Shoutout also to Diana Prince aka Darcy the Mail-Girl for her awesome cameo as a radio station secretary who ends up not having a good weekend. I imagine they’ll keep making these movies, and I’ll keep showing up to watch them. However Gordon Green’s trilogy has a very satisfying conclusion, and I’m glad I saw it in theaters. Also one particular thing happens that was not only long overdue, yet very fitting for this series. Don’t Fear The Reaper, indeed.

Horrorfest 2022/Let’s Get Criterion Presents: The Cremator (1969, Juraj Herz)

My final viewing on Halloween that was a first time viewing (I did revisit two Brian De Palma films, one which I need to review for this blog, the other which I reviewed years back) was Juraj Herz’s disturbing dramatic horror movie The Cremator. Is this a horror movie or is it a drama? I feel that both apply here, in that Herz covers the so called “Banality of evil” that comes to mind when describing any such horrors that occur in life committed by people who appear to be normal. In this case it applies to the Holocaust, which is the event that inspired such a quote.

What we realize is that people we deem monsters are in fact rather human beings, and this movie is an excellent and chilling display of how someone goes from being a loving father, husband and pillar of the community to an absolute monster capable of murder and much, much worse. I wonder how much this inspired such later films as American Psycho, where the main character manages to captivate our interest while he commits such awful crimes, and fittingly both that movie and The Cremator are bleak comedies. I did find myself chuckling at some parts that were truly beyond the pale, and Karel Kopfrkingl (Rudolf Hrušínský) is the main character of this movie, combining Tibetan philosophy with Nazism in what is a marvelous and skin crawling performance. Without him this movie wouldn’t even work, and I’m reminded of how easy it is for people to be swayed by others who offer a credence that preaches you being better than others.

In fact, the Nazi party scenes offer a window into a society that practices benign acceptance of a horrific policy, and embraces a destiny that appeals greatly to Karel. He believes that he is freeing souls through murder and death, and there are several parts that show his madness on full display. The final shot is very effective, as he never waivers from his beliefs and they and him become one, driven on by others. He is given the authority to put his desires and plans into motion, and I’m sure others today would eagerly grasp onto such power if given the chance. The Cremator is one of the best horror movies I’ve ever seen, and it’s going to haunt me for a while. With the rise of fascism again in the world and people cheering for alt right candidates, I feel that Herz’s classic is all the more relevant in today’s age. I wish it wasn’t so, people seem to have short memories and always need reminders. Cinema is good at delivering those.

Horrorfest 2022/Let’s Get Criterion Presents: Onibaba (1964, Kaneto Shindo)

Finally I got around to watching my copy of Kaneto Shindo’s Onibaba on Halloween, which is an eerie and slow burn nightmare tale of murder, madness, and family bounds fraying amongst the ruins of war torn Japan. Two women, one older (Nobuko Otowa), one younger (Jitsuko Yoshimura) have a man (Kei Satō) come between them, as the younger woman is dealing with her husband being dead as a result of the civil war raging at the time. The older woman, realizing that she can’t kill people by herself, decides to use a samurai mask that is really super freaky looking and tales of hell to scare the younger woman into staying with her. Does all of this horribly backfire? What do you think, ha ha? Of course it does, in gloriously shot black and white cinematography that only adds to the movie’s unsettling atmosphere and strong feelings of dread.

I rather liked the dynamic between the two women, and one can argue that what happens to them is karma, yet I felt that the movie’s finale and last act is more a fulfillment of a bleak destiny that was hanging over them the entire time. Toho did a great job with this movie, and even though I don’t think it’s a great movie I feel it is a very strong one, a film that I should probably watch again and look even more closely at. Criterion did a fine transfer job as usual, and I would like to see more of Shindo’s work. My only issue is that I’m not sure the movie really had an ending, although I guess that often happens in foreign cinema.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Deathdream (1974, Bob Clark)

Bob Clark gave us A Christmas Story, yet his main body of work lies in the horror movie genre. Deathdream is a really good horror movie that reminds us to be careful what you wish for. It just might come true and make things worse. Much worse. Lynn Carlin is fantastic as Christine, a mother who wishes for her son Andy (Richard Backus in a freaky and creepy performance) to come home from the Vietnam War. He was reportedly killed, and yet one night he shows up, to the amazement of his mother, father (John Marley) and sister (Anya Ormsby) who all thought he was dead.

They choose to ignore the fact that he’s home, although his father starts to notice that Andy is well, different. A lot different! What occurs next is a series of brutal murders and the realization that while Andy is still walking, he’s not exactly human anymore. That’s for sure in what reminds me not only of The Monkey’s Paw (the inspiration for the flick) but also Stephen King tales as well.

I’m not sure if Andy is a zombie or a vampire, yet the scenes where he attacks people to drink their blood are pretty suspenseful and freaky. Clark made a low budget movie that is still well put together anyways, and he focuses on the negative impacts of the Vietnam War upon a local community literally less than a year after the US pulled out of the conflict. I do wish the movie had lingered on those aspects a bit more, yet Deathdream is a really effective drama horror movie that did burrow itself into my brain a little. Viewed thanks to Tubi, and a reminder that the 1970s had some of the best horror the genre had to offer.

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