Showing posts from July, 2008

Awash in Intended Failure...

I have started any number of themed essay series on the Pylon (The Shark Film Office; I Tolerate Short Shorts, etc.), but I am apparently terrible with maintaining them for any length of time. An eager and perhaps overly excited opening post or two, and then I zoom off to the next wicked brainstorm. Looking through the log of posts on my Blogger Dashboard, I see innumerable drafts for entries in what seems a score of these series which I never completed. As a result, like a dictator discovering a pit of bodies he forgot to have his minions cover over, I have decided to spend a little time in cleaning up the bloody mess. Or at least catching up on completing a few, if not all, of these drafts. Well, a dictator would just have those same minions clean up the mess. But I don't have minions. Yet.

There are going to be a handful of entries in my “Yeah, I Sat Through It Again…” series coming up in the next couple of weeks, and before I fill up the Pylon with them, I wanted to respond to …

Spout Mavens Disc #11: Manda Bala [Send A Bullet] (2007)

Director: Jason Kohn
Kilo/City Lights, 1:25, color, Portuguese/English
Cinema 4 Rating: 7

Just like the once seemingly lost battle I fought for far too many years in the past regarding watching films in widescreen ratios (and because its the generally the same group of people griping about both), subtitles seem to vex a lot of Americans. They don't want to have to read when they go to the theatre, and it appears that most of them would really like to do it even less at home on a much smaller screen. (Hell, I think a lot of them just don't want to read, period.) Nix the subtitles then, my friends, and watch it dubbed. But please don't complain or mock the film when the dubbing doesn't sync properly or makes the film look cheap. You got us into this mess with your phobia of being forced to read off a screen. Or maybe you prefer the dubbing, Americans, so you don't have to hear someone speak a language other than English. Anything, you say, just don't remind us that …

Clarification... or Dead-Horse Beating... You Decide, but I'm Shooting the Horse Before It Turns Zombie on Us...

The other day, I went off quite wildly over my frustration at a would-be zombie comedy in the Western vein, Undead or Alive. My disappointment was couched mainly in terms of the film most likely becoming some form of cult film despite not really being worthy of gathering a regular, loyal audience, either by intent or execution. I appreciate that someone out there cares enough to bring a genuinely wacky idea to the movie-going public. It would just be nice if that someone cared enough to make it genuinely entertaining too, if not at least halfway into that territory known as "good."

It used to be that cult films -- or midnight movies or whatever you prefer to call them -- it used to be they had to earn their stripes. Good or bad, they at least had to bring something truly bizarre, often forbidden, and sometimes surreal to the audience. Many times they would be specific genre entries just barely stylized enough to separate in a minor way but uniquely from their precursors. The …

The Woes of Inappropriate Cultiness: Undead and Alive (2007)

Director/Writer: Glasgow Phillips
Odd Lot/Image, 1:32, color
Cinema 4 Rating: 4

Not all cult films are created equal. Some earn their cult status by being sharp, tight little films that push and fight and scrape their way to gathering a dedicated audience of eventual diehard fans. Despite their often miniscule budgets (and let us not discount the rare, occasional larger budget production which gets waylaid by the press and public until they eventually come to their senses and realize what they have missed) and despite some obvious small flaws, these films can often represent what is best about filmmaking: originality, spontaneity, and the raw talent of unproven but eager to impress filmmakers. The best of these films truly deserve the discovery and recognition, and sometimes even the most suspect of these films can still be fun and gritty delights and worthy of their pocket audiences.

Undead or Alive is going to be a cult film, but it will not be of the first variety, nor will it be of th…

Dr. Horrible Needs YOU!!!

Pals and Gals (and those Buffy and/or Firefly fans amongst them):

I do this viral stuff NEVER, so have a little faith in me and DO NOT take this lightly for even two seconds!

Do yourself a favor and go here immediately:

If you care about the following things: Joss Whedon, Neil Patrick Harris; Nathan Fillion; super-villains; musicals; unrequited love in the laundromat -- and these are all things which I do -- then this is something you are going to want to see.

Act I went up on the 15th; Act II this morning; and the final act will go up on the 19th. After the 20th, the whole thing disappears. Be sure to read Joss Whedon's Master Plan page as well.

If we can't have Firefly or Buffy back (onscreen, at least... there are the comics), then we just have to take what we can get. Luckily, this is pretty damn great. Evil IS on the rise!

Your Friendly Neighborhood Boogieman aka Rik Tod

Spout Mavens Disc #10: Summer Palace (2006) or Lou Ye, Lou Ye, Me Gotta Go...

Yihe Yuan [Summer Palace]
Director: Lou Ye
Chinese, 2:20, color
Cinema 4 Rating: 5

I am nothing in this world, and I am too much for this world. How shallow everyone must be to never realize how unfathomable I am. How can they not know that I am unknowable? Is that unreasonable of me? Don’t dare to ask…

I am given a DVD of Summer Palace, but I have already seen The Unbearable Lightness of Being a dozen years ago, and so I don’t see the point. I watch it anyway, and find that I am alternately this and that. Don’t ask me what “this and that” are; they could be one or the other, but each are as much a mystery to me as myself, and therefore, not only would I never understand, but you would never understand either. And now, out of both of our confused states, we will sleep with each other, and then I will cry for some unknown reason in the darkness. And you will still never understand.

Out of an oath of fealty to the art of nudity, I continue watching Summer Palace. This is an easy oath to fulfi…

Rik-O-Sound: Pianosaurus and Extinction

They Might Be Giants. The Young Fresh Fellows. Robyn Hitchcock, with or without the Egyptians. The Posies.

Compact discs by any or all of these groups may have been in my hands when I reached the Mammoth Music counter on that fateful moment fifteen years ago when a toy guitar, a toy piano and a Fraggle Rock drum kit made my head do a 1080 degree spin above my neck. If there is a moment in a music store in the last fifteen years where one of those groups (or some side project or offshoot of one of those groups) wasn’t in my hands, I’d be hard-pressed to pinpoint it. I don’t actually remember exactly what I was buying on that wintry day, but I do know that it was the combined effect of the type of CDs in my hand that made the counter guy step back and say, “Have you heard Pianosaurus?” When I replied to the negative, he added “Oh, you have got to hear this!”

I don’t usually listen for long when salespeople say ““Oh, you have got to hear this!” or “…see this!” or “…taste this!” (The latter…

Psychotronic Ketchup: Blackout (1978)

Director: Eddy Matalon
New World, 1:28, color
Cast Notables: Robert Carradine; Jim Mitchum; Belinda Montgomery; Ray Milland; June Allyson; Jean-Pierre Aumont
Cinema 4 Rating: 4
I would never have given Blackout the time of day if its title hadn't appeared in the Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film.

One of the few negative things about that volume is that it spends an inordinate amount of time with disaster movies. Sure, disaster movies can be fun (especially in an unintentional way), and they certainly fulfill the special effects aspect with which most films of the psychotronic sort find themselves involved. Certainly a case can also be made that disaster movies are not that far removed from monster flicks, with the earthquake or flood or, in this case, the city-wide blackout (and the reaction of the citizenry to its installation) substituting for the giant monster that would normally kill, maim, stop and generally terrify the people of the film.

But that is really pushing it as far as in…

Psychotronic Ketchup: Madman (1981)

Director/Writer: Joe Giannone
Jensen Farley Pictures, 1:28, color
Cinema 4 Rating: 4
Oh, Betsy! Do leave us...

Sure, one of the kids that populates the "retreat for gifted children" in this micro-budgeted New York slasher flick from 1981 begs for Betsy not to leave them as she heads out to search for the bodies of her missing fellow camp counselors. But you won't miss her. With her straight blonde locks and her eyes popping out of her flat face, Betsy sometimes seems like the twisted offspring from a threesome rutting between Veronica Lake, Buster Keaton and Don Knotts... but that's not why I want to see her leave.

You see, Betsy represents that which I despise: the worrywart who worries so much "about the children" that she ruins everyone's good time. If she makes it through Madman alive -- and I am betting she doesn't -- surely Betsy will become one of those mothers that slaps stickers on record albums, puts helmets on bicyclists and kneepads on sk…