Yes, Jane Fonda’s a fucking fox in this movie. I mean, she’s no Marisa Mell – but she’s fine. And the film has a goofy sort of opulence to it – but the goofiness of it seems to come from a place where director Roger Vadim believes the material is garbage, and wants to make sure you know he knows. Which, by extension, means he thinks you’re an idiot for watching this trash. The similarly-constructed Flash Gordon trades this attitude for earnestness – and is a better film for it.
Though if you want to achieve a real victory in the campy comic-inspired cinema of yore (not Yor – but you can do that too. Though I’d suggest waiting for the Blu Ray) – then you can’t do better than DIABOLIK…
…which I just discovered is out-of-print and running around $30.00 to $40.00. Guess I should have picked a bunch of them up at Big Lots for $3.00 a piece and played War Profiteer, huh?
Director Sidney Furie has worked with all the greats. Michael Caine, Marlon Brando, Richard Pryor, Robert Redford, Frank Sinatra, Cliff Richard, Casper Van Dien, Dolph Lundgren – his career is kinda’ insane. To say he’s a journeyman is really understating it. The guy is responsible for The IPCRESS File…and Ladybugs. For The Appaloosa…and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. For Iron Eagle….and The Entity – a movie where Barbara Hershey is raped by a supernatural ghosty-demon-beastie while Ron Silver continuously tells her it’s all in her mind.
Note – for fans of the film, this Blu is a bit of a disappointment, in that it retains none of the special features from Anchor Bay’s old DVD – despite the fact that this is an Anchor Bay product.
Anchor Bay…that’s an entity that’s really been fucking it up lately, eh? But it’s cheap at Amazon, so there you go.
GOD BLESS AMERICA
An appropriate release date for a film that celebrates the murder of everything this fucked nation adores.
A latter-day Disney animated sci-fantasy film that’s not without sweep and charm, Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as a re-imagined Jim Hawkins in this inspired take on the Robert Louis Stevenson tale. The designs and their execution are fantastic, and James Newton Howard’s score is excellent (even if the songs by that Goo Goo Dolls tool are, well – everything you’d expect from songs by that Goo Goo Dolls tool). You might check it out.
AND ON DVD…
NO HOLDS BARRED
I offer this heads-up as a public service/tribute to those denizens of the most active and incredible thread on the CHUD Message boards - The B Movie Thread.
No Holds Barred is…oh, man.
There are those films that do an amazing job of straddling that line between so-bad-it’s-good and truly awful. At CHUD, we love those films (hence the name of the site). No Holds Barred doesn’t straddle that line. It meets that line in Hef’s grotto at the Playboy Mansion in 1985, cockblocks Don Johnson, takes that line out for nouvelle cuisine at Ma Maison, gets it insanely girl-drink drunk, bones it in a parking garage on the hood of a Lamborghini Countach, and never bothers to call it ever again. It’s a movie that feels like it should be playing on a television Homer Simpson is watching.
Hulk Hogan makes a run at Worst Fucking Actor in the History of Film (if that was an Oscar, I might tune in) every time he steps in front of a camera, but he’s hysterically bad here. Usually, wrestlers make for solid actors – but, like many stage actors in the early days of film, some can’t wrap their heads around the idea that they needn’t play for the cheap seats when the camera’s two feet away. Hogan plays every scene in No Holds Barred like he’s hoping that they’ll be able to read his body language in East Reykjavik. Tom “Tiny” Lister outclasses him every step of the way, if for no other reason than you can read on his face that he knows how utterly awful this is. Legendary character actor Kurt Fuller shows up to do his slimy asshole routine, and that always brightens the room.
The film itself exists as a thinly veiled swipe at “screenwriter” Vince McMahon’s woes in the late 80s – his contentious relationship with with CNN/TBS honcho Ted Turner (which eventually blossomed into an expensive and legendary battle for viewership between McMahon’s WWF and Turner’s WCW – a company the media mogul acquired soley to fuck with McMahon. In the film, Fuller takes the Turner role as a network head who tries to lure the WWF’s biggest draw away from the company. When Hogan – laughably named “Rip” – refuses to jump ship, Fuller’s sleaze seeks a beast capable of delivering ratings and destroying Rip. Enter ZEUS (Lister), a demonic force of nature who invades WWE territory to challenge Rip to what might just be his last fight…NO HOLDS BARRED.
This seems like a very simple premise. Add a love interest (Joan Severence, looking alternately bored or repulsed, depending on the amount of shirt Hulk Hogan’s wearing) and a training montage, and this should all go down easy, right? Well – the devil’s in the details, and this film gets so many of them so freakishly wrong that it often blossoms into an absolute delight. Wrestling was in the midst of an upswing in mainstream popularity when this film was conceived, and yet all of the grappling in the film appears to take place at bars and inside used car dealerships. The wrestlefights – which should be the movie’s strong suit, are plodding affairs; Rip wins fights with William Shatner’s double axe handle (a blow renowned for it’s on-screen dynamism). It looks cheaper than many of the era’s cheapest features (including the superior cinematic look at Pro Grapplins in the ’80s, Hal Needham’s Body Slam - which was definitely not the most expensive movie ever made) – probably because Vince McMahon couldn’t help but pay himself a lot of money in his capacity as producer. And yet, capable people worked on the film. Its director, Thomas Wright, moved on to television – where he’s shot episodes of some of television’s greatest shows – including Supernatural, Alias, Firefly, and The Wire. But competent workmen behind the camera apparently weren’t able to control the Hulk Hogan Hell in front of it. I guarantee you’ll have a hearty laugh over this fucking mess. There’s a pull quote for the box art.
The 7 Adventures of Sinbad
Born On The Fourth Of July
Chesty Morgan’s Bosom Buddies
George Gently: Series 4
God Bless America
Home On The Range
The Horse Whisperer
Kurt Cobain: About A Son
Mac & Devin Go to High School
Midsomer Murders: Set 20
Needless: The Complete Collection
Rise & Shine
Under The Tuscan Sun
Kind of a slow holiday week, and I actually only had the opportunity to preview one new release.
THE BLASTERS – FUN ON SATURDAY NIGHT
There was always more to this band than Dave Alvin’s songwriting and scorching guitar… but how much more is the question, nearly three decades on from his departure. Brother Phil never pretended to be a songwriter, but he was a terrific singer back in the day; with the vocal thickening of age, though it’s probably a good idea that he’s focusing more on blues and R&B these days, rather than the high, lonesome rockabilly wail he used to be capable of. The sly 21st century doo-wop of “Breath of My Love” (“She said her psych’ had just told her / She’s probably bipolar“) and the deep, guttural moan and downhome harp of “No Nights By Myself” are the sort of thing he puts across with just a touch less genius than a Joe Turner or Slim Harpo, and it suits him much better than the breathlessly “All Shook Up” / “Shake Rattle and Roll”- ism’s of “Rock My Blues Away” or of the title song. “The Yodeling Mountaineer” is a fun tall tale, but it’s a little sad to think what the younger Phil might have done with it. The two better-known covers are kind of a mixed bag: Alvin gets closer to James Brown than most singers could hope to on “Please Please Please,” but he’s still a galaxy or two away; and the cover of “Jackson”, with Exene Cervenka, is pleasant enough, but misses out on the wicked fun of the original. John Bazz and Bill Bateman have always been a more rock-solid rhythm section than most of their ducktailed brethren could dream of, and guitarist Keith Wyatt doesn’t go for Dave Alvin’s Telecaster pyrotechnics, but has a nice feel for stinging blues accompaniment, driving the lowdown “I Don’t Want Cha” and “Penny.” The closing “Maria Maria” (a corrido version of “Marie Marie”) is a nice way of expanding the legacy of The Blasters, and that pretty much sums this one up: if that legacy means anything to you, you’ll want to keep in touch (particularly considering that Phil’s recent hospitalization and tour cancellation may or may not finally signal the end of the line). Otherwise, pick up The Blasters or Non Fiction (or, if you can find it, the 2-CD Testament, collecting their entire Slash records output), and learn why people were once justified in comparing the Alvin Brothers to Fogerty, Cash, or Springsteen.
OTHER NOTABLE 7/3 RELEASES:
Asia – XXX
Chris Brown – Fortune
Delain – We Are The Others
James Luther Dickinson, I’m Just Dead I’m Not Gone
Flo Rida – Wild Ones
Jellyfish – Live at Bogart’s 1991
Nile – At the Gate of Sethu
Periphery – Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal
Prodigy of Mobb Deep – H.N.I.C. 3
Small Faces – Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake (re-mastered limited 3CD edition)
Luca Turilli – Ascending to Infinity
Van Der Graaf Generator – Alt
Keller Williams with The Travelin McCourys – Pick
Wisin y Yandel – Lideres
Wolves at the Gate – Captors
Final Fantasy has always had great music. Now the music is a game! Or something.
So, you can push buttons in rhythm to One Winged Angel. It’s Elite Beat Agents with The Loss of Me as a playable track. I have no idea why I’m all for this, but I am. Rhythm games have never been my thing – but if you add little sprites of Terra and Kefka fighting to Dancing Mad it has the possibility to be the greatest music game for giant pasty nerds such as myself.
THE SECRET WORLD (PC)
A Norwegian made MMO about secret societies debuting the day before Independence Day? Dude…they’re telling us something. Don’t let the Freemasons see you buy this, man.
Whoomp (or, alternately “Whoot”) – there it is. Enjoy your holiday.