July 13th-Crawl from 2019 (Director: Alexandre Aja, Writers: Michael and Shawn Rasmusse, Stars: Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper, Cinematography: Maxime Alexandre, Runtime: 87 mins)
The story of a swimmer and her dad trapped in a house during a hurricane. Oh, there are alligators. Lots of gators. Too many fucking gators. God damn it, Florida. Why? There is no complex story here. Yeah, there’s some strain relationship stuff going on between the lead (Haley played by Kaya Scodelario) and her dad (Barry Pepper) but that’s just enough characterization for a film about a bunch of fucking gators during a hurricane trying to eat people. This is a beautiful film. Seriously, we need more straight forward b-film fare like this.
The film starts establishing our lead swims. Good. She’ll need to be able to do that. Then, because of her sister, she’s off to find her dad. We got the backstory in the first the or minutes, time to set the crazy. In the crawlspace of the old family home she finds her dad injured. It’s because of a gator. Hold on, two gators! Actually, even more gators outside as they kill some young crooks and some local police. This isn’t good and trust me, I was anxious through out. The rising water, the gators swimming in, I was worried. I don’t like the water because I legit fear the animals in it.
I really enjoyed this. The way its film is claustrophobic, drowning, and nerve wracking. The tight shots on the bruises and overall ugliness of whats happening. So many well timed jump scares. This film just clocks in under 90 minutes and thank you for doing that. One aspect I love of horror films is how most are around 90 minutes and just get it. Joining Alexandre and his team are actors Scodelario and Pepper. The team is great. Even if you don’t care about the family drama, they are good. Their fear, their drive to survive, and their actions. The best horror films have memorable performances. or rather, performances that suck you into the dread that everyone on screen is feeling.
Its been a pretty weird month, most these scifi films have underwhelmed me. This was a great jolt of fun energy. I really dug it and I think I’ll pick it up when it drops on video.
Other Entertainment: G1 Climax is back! Plus some Evolve Wrestling little reading, and more Stranger Things.
July 14th-Iron Sky from 2012 (Director: Timo Vuorensola, Writers: Michael Kalesniko, Ryan Healey and Timo Vuorensola with Story by Johanna Sinisalo and Jarmo Puskala , Stars: Julia Dietze, Christopher Kirby, Götz Otto, Peta Sergeant, Stephanie Paul and Udo Kier, Cinematography: Mika Orasmaa, Runtime: 93 mins)
The dark side of the moon has Nazis. A pair of astronauts encounter them, one shot and the black man named Washington is taken captured. Some Nazi asshole named Adler thinks he is part of incoming shock troops. They bleach his skin, Adler and his 97% genetic match Renate take him to Earth. Adler amd Renate get involved in Earth politics, Renate runs into Washington again, learns Nazi’s are actually assholes and she was raised on propaganda. The Nazis finally attack, shit gets wild. Seriously, this film is stupid and I enjoy it greatly.
First off, the special effects and set design look better than they should. Or at least I thought, checking currency conversion has the budget at over 8 million US. Which I guess is good for a foriegn production. Finnish-German-Australian team up and they capture an interesting look. Mixing a little traditional scifi with very anachronistic scifi for the moon nazi. Like old comic art, their space machinery is pretty cool looking. You don’t actually a lot of location shooting on Earth. Keeping it to sound stages and sets. Smart.
Performances are over the top. Udo Kier is the only real known actor and he has the weakest part, but he is a recognizable German actor playing a space Nazi in a straight way that its fine. The others go big. Julia Dietze plays Nazi Earthologist Renate with honest naivety and charm, you buy into her fascination with James Washington. I think the scenes with Gotz Otto’s Adler are important. Her happy reaction to their genetic match feels faked, and she seems incredibly put off with their kiss. Otto plays bad guy Adler as a bit of an idiot, which works cause Nazis are idiot. Christopher Kirby feels like he is bringing the funny sidekick of a blaxploitation movie to his role as Washington which feels just right. Finally our other two ladies Stephanie Paul and Peta Sergeant playing the President and adbisor/space force captain Vivian Wagner. Both embrace the rediculousness of it. Seriously, there is a scene where they realize the space Nazis have valuable Helium-3 and the President declares it US property to UN. That space and the moon is US soil. Like, what the fuck?
All this and an amazing score and original songs composed by the notorious Laibach. Now I don’t normally listen to Laibach cause their aesthetic, while something of parody, does push me away. But their music is always pretty cool. Seriously, while far from a perfect movie, and honestly I can understand why people think its bad, Iron sky is a cool little flick. Plus with the racist rhetoric and white supremacy complacency coming from President Trump and his people, I think this film hit in some fascinating ideas.
Bonus Movie: Casablanca from 1942 (Director: Michael Curtiz, Writers: Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, Howard Koch and Based on Everybody Comes to Rick’s by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison, Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Dooley Wilson, Cinematography: Arthur Edeson, Runtime: 102 mins)
Fuck Nazis. A very thin connection between these two films. Casablanca is about Rick who runs a club in what is about to be German-occupied Morocco. In walks his ex Ilsa and her husband Laszlo. Laszlo is on the run from Nazis because he has escaped their clutches and is an underground letter. They need letters of transit to get out. Insert melodrama.
I don’t got a lot to say. The film looks good, though not exactly stunning. Lot of Ricks club looks, well, just okay. Yet the camera captures everything happening with great detail. The story is fine, though it doesn’t treat the Nazis as the assholes they are, but I blame Hollywood politics and structure. At least they mention concentration camps. A lot of emphasis on the importance of immigration to safe place of the US. It makes me feel sad now.
What really matters to me is the performances. Bogart, Bergman and Rains. Bogart is always good, though this is not a favorite performance. Bergman, well, same. Rains is a bit funner, but also almost more of an asshole than he is Notorious. I am not sure I buy that much into Bogart and Bergman, well, I buy her feeling sorry for leaving him but something did not totally click. Still, I enjoyed what the leads were doing. Except Paul Henreid, who was the least interesting of the main leads. Also, film needed more Peter Lorre.
I fell asleep through this in high school but I appreciate it and enjoyed the film on this viewing.
Other Entertainment: Finished Stranger Things rewatch, plus more wrestling
July 15th-Liquid Sky from 1982 (Director: Slava Tsukerman, Writers: Slava Tsukerman, Anne Carlisle and Nina V. Kerova, Stars: Anne Carlisle and Paula E. Sheppard, Cinematography: Yuri Neyman, Runtime: 112 mins)
The fuck did I watch? I actually read the summary on wikipedia to see if this fever dream of a film was real. About a pair of models, Margaret (played by Anna Carlisle who also plays Jimmy) who like drugs and is being observed by aliens. The people she has sex with (or is raped by) die when they reach orgasm. The aliens are absorbing the endorphins which is causing people to die.mAlso a German scientist is studying this.
So how do you respond to a film that feels dangerous? An icon 9f queer movies this film is problematic and erotic. Strange and both enticing and off-putting at once. It is so incredibly unique. The director and creative team accomplish a lot visually for a film with so few locations. The fashion of Margaret and Jimmy, plus those of the shot. Coupled with the weird club and some of the set decoration, its a fascinating looking movie. Even the alien POV, which is that sort of infrared vision, adds to the overall style.
The performances, Anne Carlisle is sort of iconic. This film influenced the visual aesthetic of the musical genre electroclash. As Margaret she is stunning, and her performance so stranger an alluring. Part feminist rhetoric, dark humor, and maybe self hatred? She is a bizarre lead but you have to see her. Her Jimmy is beautiful. Very Drag King Bowie affair. The way he acts out and his attempts to be cool. Adrian, played by Paula Shepperd, is a mean kind of friend. Or rather girlfriend. Very sick in the head. She takes shots at Margaret and everyone, then challenges the notion of death by sec. Forcing herself onto Margaret. Of course she dies.
This film is on some drugs. Cocaine, heroin and qualudes. Its high fashion and crazy concept. It will stay with me for a long time.
Other Entertainment: Reading and wrestling.
July 16th-Them! from 1954 (Director: Gordon Douglas, Writers: Ted Sherdeman and Russell Hughes, Stars: James Whitmore, Edmund Gwenn, Joan Weldon, and James Arness, Cinematography: Sidney Hickox, Runtime: 94 mins)
A little girl is spotted wandering from a trailer park, the police investigate and find her mute from terror. The trailer destroyed and later a dead body turns up with his business destroyed in a similar manner. An FBI man comes to assist the police Sergeant investigating, then a scientist team (father and daughter). Turns out big mutated ants. They destroy one colony but upon investigation learn two queen ants escaped.
This 1950s scifi film has 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Wow. Until you realize that just means every critic that it was at least good. That it is. Having watched old scifi films only on rare occasions, this is one of the least corny looking. The black and white photography helps male the ants look pretty decent. Helps the film is shot in a way that never really shows them in full out in the open. The black and white look really is pretty impressive, especially in the start where it feels kind of noirish. The underground and sewer tunnel stuff has a good, creepy look. Then everything else is pretty standard but still fine. This was actually the second to last film shot by Warner Bros contracted cinematographer Sidney Hickox and he helped made a classic. Also the director had film several noir films as well as swashbuckling movies so I a, sure that helped.
One of the other things this film does better than most scifi films of the 50s and 60s is build. It has a strong procedural start, we also meet the monster early in a great sequence, and then we continue investigating. The film isn’t just a lot of melodrama and scientific ponderings. Yes that’s here but the science is a but more fascinating because of the reality of what ants are. Taking real zoological science and implying it to the impossible. The military study and tracking helps too. Its more straight forward serious and the actors, while not stand outs, are doing a strong job of making the film credible.
Of course its still a dated scifi movie with a silly premise. I think it must have been a blow away film of its era but now its just good. A solid classic scifi film that won’t bore you, but rather make you think “That was pretty good.”
July 17th-Seconds from 1966 (Director: John Frankenheimer, Writers: Lewis John Carlino and Based on the novel by David Ely, Stars: Rock Hudson, Cinematography: James Wong Howe, Runtime: 100 mins)
Seconds is about a middle age man named Arthur Hamilton, who is unfulfilled with his life. He has acheived the American dream but he is not happy. A friend he thought was dead pushes him to an organization just known as the Company. They can give you a new life. Fking his dead and with plastic surgery he is brought back new. Younger, and with a job as a painter. However his new life does not fill the emptiness. His struggles lead him back to the company. He wants another shot.
This film, this film is depressing and scary. The opening footage with its stark black and white is quite menacing. James Wong Howe was nominated for an Oscar for this film and the way its shot, its both creepy and sad. Him and director John Frankenheimer just capture this emptiness on film. The world around Arthur, and then his younger self Wilson, feels so despairing. I can not really put into words. Its a combination of noir, horror and tragedy just the way this film flows from its look and its story. Following Hamilton into Wilson into just complete loneliness. Then that awful, sad finish to the film. Plus that haunting score. This is one of the biggest downers I’ve seen this year.
Of course a lot of it works due to the two performances. John Randolph and Rock Hudson are amazing. Randolph is so pathetic as this man who just is a drone, one removed from his own wife. He does a lot by doing so little. There’s no big monologue explaining his predicament or his feelings of life. His struggles to defend his world is real and heartbreaking. Then Rock Hudson steps on. I only have seen one other Hudosn film, but I know a couple things about him. First, he was mostly known as a romantic lead and this is against type. Second, he was a closeted gay man and one of the first stars to die of AIDs. Hudson is very good. Watching him adjust and then reject his new life. The scene where he meets his former wife as he pretends to be a friend of the “late Arthur Hamilton.” Its an incredibly tragic performance. One that seems to have gotten much deeper over time. Thanks in part to his own closeted nature as well as the film gaining the acclaim that was elusive at its original run.
Second is one of the most gorgeous movies I’ve seen. Its also one of the saddest and creepiest I’ve watched in a while. It deserves its status now as one of the great scifi films of all time.
Other Entertainment: Stuff
July 18th-Repo Man from 1986 (Director/Writer: Alex Cox, Stars: Harry Dean Stanton and Emilio Estevez, Cinematography: Robby Müller, Runtime: 92 mins)
The next film is a popular cult classic. Repo Man about a young punk named Otto who starts working for a company called Helping Hand that repossess cars. Through his misadventures he meets a woman talking about aliens and word gets around about a car with a $20K bounty in it. That car is carrying some hot cargo in the trunk that will fry anyone who looks at it.
I was into this film at first. The opening with the comic book disintegration of the highway patrik man. Then jumping to Otto,his day to day life and then hook up with Helping Hand. Then it just sort of goes. The alien stuff has a lot of uninteresting characters. There are the punk criminals who are funny at first but wear thin. Eventually it feels like its turning its wheels which is weird because this is not a long film.
I liked Emilio Estevez, Henry Dead Stanton and a few others. Emilio has a lot of charm for a character who is kind of an asshole. Sy Richardson is quite a character. The film has a cool, punk LA vibe to it. Gritty, urban trash. I just wish it was more fun. Did more with what it was about. I was very much into it at first but I just lost steam half way through and never quite got back into it. Writing this out now, males me wonder if my *** rating in my Letterboxed was 1/2* too high.
Other Entertainment: More reading, more wrestling.
July 19th-Tetsuo: The Iron Man from 1989 (Director/Writer: Shinya Tsukamoto, Stars: Tomorowo Taguchi, Kei Fujiwara and Shinya Tsukamoto, Cinematography: Kei Fujiwara and Shinya Tsukamoto, Runtime: 67 mins)
Explaining the plot of Tetsuo: The Ir9n Man won’t do either of us any good. I can, but you’d just blink twice and say `what?’ And really, the whole bizarre plot revolving around metal and flash is just an excuse to shoot an incredibly twisted piece of cyberpunk body horror. That’s what this film is, a 67 minute black and white body horror film that will have you wondering what drugs they were taking.
The film has limited actors, limited dialogue, its a visual treat. Bits of it feels inspired by Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead films with the camera movement and even one woman (these characters don’t have names) stylized look similar to the first Dead film. Now even though I had seen Army of Darkness before Tetsuo, I saw Tetsuo before I ever saw Evil Dead 1 and 2. Do for me, as a teenager when I first saw this, the film was on a whole new level. Even though it was the late 90s and the film was from 89. Its on this watch I see it clearly and it works perfectly for Tetsuo. The changing effects are gross and fascinating. The focus on metal and machinery coupled with the clanging industrial score, its incredibly ominous.
A lot of the beauty is in the black white photography. It makes Japan during the day feel so dystopian. There is not much shots during the day but when they’re out it seems all wrong. The way it also makes use of VHS and filming of televison just adds to the urban nightmare. The way the actors move, twitch, fight amd pause it all feels like a dream where you only remember the most important details. Plus the film is dripping in psychosexual imagery. Like when our two metal men combine into one creature that looks like a giant metal penis with a gun.
Your mileage on this will vary. As a teenager into Industrial music I loved it but as an adult, I still like it but not as much. But god damn, visually it holds up well.