Was Gelatinous Ooze Clean-Up In Aisle Three Taken? [Part 1]

I can do the high and low as well as anyone. I can do the High and Low as in Kurosawa, I can do the Alexander Nevsky, and I can do La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc. There are no limits in my interest in seeking out the very best of cinematic history, and I rejoice, in this golden information age, in having more avenues than ever in finding films about which I have only read previously. Call it arty, call if pretentiousness, but I am sincerely and deeply interested in the “painters” of cinema, those people who seek to expand the horizons of what film can do and stories can be told.

But, with amazing frequency and especially delight, I will put down the Eisenstein, Dreyer and Kurosawa, and seek release elsewhere. More often than not, I also crave the low. I am an inveterate denizen of what are generally (and sometimes wrongly) regarded as the video slums. I love low-budget horror and science fiction like any properly video store-raised geek; I love sleazy, half-brained action flicks like a second cousin who leads you to a secret stash of nudie books in his treehouse. I eat Godzilla flicks as earnestly as Godzilla himself stomps the citizenry of Japanese cities. Of course, what I am looking for -- or what I say I am looking for -- within these genres are the true hidden gems: the Evil Deads, the Bad Tastes… the Hiddens, if you will, that stay truly hidden to most of society. While you and I know that the best of the horror and science fiction genres, even the ones considered classics, will always seem that way to the high-hat set, there is no better feeling in the world for me, at least on a movie front, than a seemingly lowbrow film breaking or at least slightly bulging the barrier between high and low. Let’s make that pressed-hamming the window between those two worlds, because that somehow seems far more appropriate an analogy. I spent this past Saturday morning getting reacquainted with Maniac Cop 2 and Maniac Cop 3, and having a delightful time of it. Wallowing in their earnest silliness for three-plus hours that morning suddenly seemed far more important than writing or watching something considered worthwhile and enlightening. Sometimes you just have to eat comfort food. Or watch comfort movies, however bloody and silly.

And still, I have my standards. I don’t want to just watch just any crappy horror or science-fiction film. I still have my sensors on “high” hoping to avoid what I consider to be the worst offense of a B-movie: not badness, but banality. I also hope that inside any random viewing that I am going to locate for myself another Sam Raimi in waiting, and not an Uwe Boll. And so, like anyone, I pick and choose. I read plots, I check pocket guide quickie reviews, I collect books on just about any movie genre and try to filter out the dross, I read up on directorial biographies and I look on Wikipedia, IMDB and on other sites for the widest possible variety of opinions. Sometimes I run into something unexpectedly on Netflix and just go for it. But, and I know this goes against that moldy “book by its cover” aphorism (the general incorrectness of which I might get into at another date), sometimes a movie title hits you in such a way that you just go, “Nah…”

Even I didn’t want to watch a movie titled Alien Raiders.

Not that I actually ran into it on my own, or if I did, I passed right by it for the very reasons I am about to outline. Reading the title Alien Raiders, it just oozes with the slime of a cynical attempt by a video company to cash in on obvious influences, and if I ran into this in a video store (if I ever actually went into a rental store again… which I don’t), I would barely glance at it after scanning the name of the flick. There is the possibility that if anyone were in earshot, I would probably snicker openly and mock the title for all to hear. After years of Raiders and Alien rip-off titles, why would a production company even think for a second that this was a good idea? I am not saying this about the content of the film; this is purely about marketing. Of course, this is just my personal take on this, and both I and the people who came up with this turd of a title (a turd-tle?) know full that the basic audience for this these days are the types who will watch any Grade-Z Sci-Fi Channel flick while hittin’ the bong. They are going to get their rentals regardless of title; in fact, probably more. They are not concerned about those few remaining of us who actually care about finding some quality within the junk pile.

My friend The Working Dead is one of those few remaining.

He does care, as do I, and I must say that while the two of us, like any friends, have differences in some small areas of film viewing, by and large, he is the person to whom I have come closest in my life to having a mirrored interest in all areas of film. Like me, he is completely devout in the areas of horror and sci-fi, and is a steadfast student of the genres. Like me, he has his higher-brow interests as well, and works to broaden those interests when time and expense allow him to do so. Reflecting back on the big “recommendation” controversy which started my battle of the last few months (recounted here recently), there are three people in this world from whom I will take recommendations instantly and without flinching. Two of them are my brothers (we seem to have a triplet-like mind-link in areas of artistic interest, even though we are all born four years apart). The other one is The Working Dead, the only living-flesh, non-internet friend I have made in the past twenty years that didn’t come into my life through either work, the theatre world or from knowing a relative of mine. Our friendship was forged at the Suncoast store where he worked at the time (and where I had mired myself as one of its most frequent browsers and semi-frequent spenders... at least until the Best Buy went in at the end of the Dimond Center mall), and our common movie interests made us fast friends. Friendship is something I do not take lightly, and where movie geeks are concerned, I am even more hesitant; reluctant to mix with my own kind, I guess. The Working Dead was, and is, a different breed of cat, and even when I left Alaska, we have remained in constant touch, even more so than with my cadre of lifelong pals. Lifelong pals they may be, but I do not necessarily hear many of the recommendations that they send my way, nor they, mine. The Working Dead, though, can convince me to watch anything.

The Working Dead recommended Alien Raiders to me a couple weeks ago...

(To be continued...)


Well, how can I NOT comment on this post that mentions me so prominently?

I'm very touched by some of the things you've written, and I promise to take the responsibility very seriously, and henceforth will strive to recommend only the top of the shelf movies to you.

Although I'm halfway nervous you've built up the trustworthiness of my recommendations only to reveal in the next post how horribly betrayed you were by this film. I can't wait!
Rik Tod said…
Well, while I appreciate the halfway nervousness I have built up within you, I'd say that with such a lead in the piece, it is most likely that I did not feel horribly betrayed by the film. I would jerk around some commoner with gimmicks like that -- or even a faceless company or website -- but not true friends.

Of course, I haven't quite finished the piece yet, so who knows? Maybe I will change my mind about the movie before then. Must... remain... honest...

Popular posts from this blog

Refilling the Flagon of Chuckles (or at Least an Extra Tall Improv Glass)...

Before We Take Off...

The Monster's on the Loose!!! Non-Chaney, Pt. 2: Werewolves Along the Wall

Guillermo Del Toro: At Home with Monsters at LACMA 2016, Pt. 2

Ignoring the Ignoramus...