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Hail to Commando Cody! Or Whatever Name You Have This Week...

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This image is of actor Tristram Coffin (or most likely a stuntman wearing the suit) as Jeffrey King aka Rocket Man (not Commando Cody YET) in King of the Rocket Men, a fun serial released by Republic Pictures in 1949. The clear (and acknowledged) inspiration for Dave Stevens' sublime comic character, The Rocketeer, the history involving this "Rocket Man" suit is pretty convoluted, as it was used to represent three different characters in three otherwise unconnected serials by Republic. And a TV series. And two feature films edited from the serials. And then the tributes to the character(s) muddled things up even further...

At the beginning, there was simply King of the Rocket Men. In 1952's Radar Men from the Moon, another actor named George Wallace (not the racist politician George Wallace nor the comedian who still carries the name) employed the suit as Commando Cody (mostly through the use of edited footage from the first serial). That same year, just six months la…

To the Devil, a YouTube Video...

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Finally, after years of trying to find a copy, I have gotten to watch Ken Russell's The Devils (1971), starring Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave. Shudder recently added the film to its streaming service, and I was overjoyed at the chance to finally see it, though I knew the film was not going to be a walk in the park. The Devils is certainly my cup of tea, but I do not recommend it to any but the most sturdy of film completists, Ken Russell nuts (I am assuming my pal Andrea is with me on this?), or those that are fond of genuinely crazy and shocking but well-crafted films.

The Devils – which is generally considered to be a horror film though most of the time it comes off as more of a historical religious drama, albeit one with a high level of surrealistic imagery, dark comedy, extensive nudity, and disgusting moments – has a long history of censorship and controversy owing to its content and imagery. (No surprise: the Catholic Church is deeply involved in all of this.) A complete v…

I Forever Can Tell: RIP Chuck Berry (1926-2017)

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"Someone opened up a closet door and out stepped Johnny B. Goode / Playing guitar like a-ringin' a bell and lookin' like he should"– "Garden Party", Ricky Nelson

I had been aware of Chuck Berry for most of my life. For me, above all others, he was the real king of rock ’n’ roll. As a kid in the early ‘70s, I would hear Chuck’s music on the radio and on TV, as first American Graffiti and then Happy Days brought about a wave of ‘50s music nostalgia that was inescapable at the time. It seemed everybody in the world knew Johnny B. Goode and Maybellene, myself included, even if I didn’t own any of his records. But then we did end up owning a couple of K-Tel/Ronco collections of novelty songs. On one of those records was Berry’s extremely silly 1972 song (and, shockingly, only #1 hit), My Ding-a-Ling, with its double entendre (but still gentle) lyrics coming off so goofy that most parents couldn’t really even get mad at it. While Chuck did not write the song (it w…

Nothing the Public Enjoys More Than a Little Iron Fisting...

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Yes, Marvel's quickly upcoming Iron Fist series is getting an early critical drubbing from pop culture and nerd sites all over the interwebs (the reviews are based on the first six episodes), but that in no way is going to keep me from hitting Netflix as early as possible this Friday to see the show for myself.

On a personal level, if they were going to concentrate on a pure martial arts series (though it is hard to say that Daredevilisn't really already such a creation), I would have preferred that Marvel do an adaptation of Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu (with or without the Sax Rohmer characters from the Fu Manchu books, part of the original Shang Chi series). Who knows? Shang-Chi has been shown to be a friend of Danny Rand's in recent years, so maybe he will pop up in a cameo in the future.

But, I also recognize that as goes Luke Cage, so goes Danny Rand (as well as Misty Knight and Colleen Wing). Since Luke has his own series, it is a natural to have Power Man and Iron Fi…

The Villeneuve List: A Tour of Cosmos

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"Move and I shave her!"

Upon posting on Facebook that I was stunned to my senses by the film Incendies the other day, my friend Kenda recommended that I see director Denis Villeneuve's earlier work in a film called Cosmos (1996). After finding it Cosmos is not readily available on DVD or streaming (not even on Amazon.ca), I managed to locate a quality full copy that someone posted on YouTube. Even better, since the film is in Québécois French, the copy turned out to be subtitled in English.

Cosmos is not a full Villeneuve film. It is an anthology film of short films by six directors including Villeneuve, each taking place on and around the streets of Montreal. The short films are tied together by the presence of a partly Greek cab driver named Cosmos (played most appealingly by Igor Ovadis), who stays mostly at the edges as the six vignettes are played out before us, though he is fully involved in one of the stories (Cosmos et agriculture, probably the funniest section of …

Psychotronic Ketchup: The Witch Who Came from the Sea (1976)

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The Witch Who Came from the Sea is not an easy watch. In climbing deep into the recesses of a mind wracked by a childhood full of sexual abuse – which culminates in an adulthood full of swinging sex and drug addiction – director Matt Cimber made quite the interesting counterpart to his later film, Butterfly… you know, the one that got Pia Zadora a Golden Globe award (and a couple of Golden Raspberries) but is generally considered to be one of the worst films ever made.

This is not the case for the far more interesting The Witch Who Came from the Sea, which is sparked by a frankly astonishing performance by Millie Perkins (an actress to whom I have paid little attention over the years), along with sharp, evocative cinematography, some of it provided by Dean Cundey, who worked on this film before performing the same duties on several of John Carpenter’s biggest films (Halloween, The Fog, The Thing, and Big Trouble in Little China), as well as filming the Back to the Future trilogy, Rock …

Out of Bounds is Always Out of Bounds...

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I have been on pain meds lately to help me deal with a constant hip pain issue (it's the reason that I have not been writing very much the last two months), and as per the instructions given by my doctor, I am supposed to take my pill once a day... AT BEDTIME. Unofficial bedtime – as in "lights out" (though not "TV off" or "phones off") for Jen and I is usually around ten at night, but this does not quite jibe with my ability to withstand the pain in my hip. The meds I have been given help me sleep, though in a pretty light way (which is a nice bonus), but the chief benefit of their use for the past couple of weeks is to reduce my level of pain (and the resulting annoyance with that pain) from anywhere to 50-75%, depending on the night. My mornings are relatively comfortable, but by noon the meds have usually started to wear off incrementally. Each day varies, but most often by around two in the afternoon, the onslaught of discomfort and leg spasms be…

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