At least YouTube provides me the inbed coding. Yay YouTube, fuck GoogleBlogger!
Also, before I start, in film news, Roman Polanski finally got nabbed for child molestation! Excellent, even if it's decades too late. Here's my most-admired-human, Andrew Vachss, on Polanski:
If I could do links I'd link you to Vachss's website so you could read up and find why I like him so much, but instead I'll just let you paste this in for yourself: www.vachss.com Buy his books, support his mission.
Asylum Erotica (C, 1971) aka La Bestia Uccide a Sangue Freddo, Slaughter Hotel, The Beast Kills in Cold Blood, Cold-Blooded Beast. Tedium holds sway throughout this pointless and plot-free Italian softcore horror flick. Klaus Kinski runs a rest home for women with mental problems (mostly nymphomania). Much of the screen time is spent on showing naked women bathe or writhe around in bed or have very mild sexual encounters, with the occasional deviation of a killer in a black mask and cape showing up to kill them with a knife or axe. The gore is very minimal and you've probably made better effects yourself while trick-or-treating. Even the nudity is limited mostly to titty, at least in the DVD I saw, which is admittedly cut. I'd hope the longer version at least had something worth sitting through. There's lots of the kind of music you used to hear in grocery stores in the 60's. Nobody (especially Kinski) really has much to do, so they stand around looking unemotional a lot. One person gets shoved into an iron maiden, which isn't exactly a smart piece of furniture to have around a clinic for the insane in the first place, but then the joint also has displays of medieval weapons, too, so they're not exactly famous for forethought. Characters are so poorly established that when the killer is revealed you won't remember who he is. Bottom of the barrel giallo that meanders along until it peters out and wastes a good title.
Day After, The (C, 1983) Fun little souvenir of the Reagan era in which global nuclear war goes off, just like everybody thought it would throughout the 80’s (some - including Ronnie - hopefully!). The film - manipulative but well-made - gives us a realistic portrait of how such a war would look from the outskirts of Lawrence, Kansas (just to show us nowhere‘s safe). An uprising in Germany sparks Russian aggression which quickly gets out of hand and soon everybody’s launching ICBM’s at everybody else. Panic erupts as people try to escape populated areas, and then the bombs hit and vaporize large portions of the population. Some survivors take shelter in cellars and hospitals, and others wander the roads, growing sick from radioactive fallout and diseases caused by lack of sanitary conditions. Others are shot as society breaks down and people become desperate scavengers. The country tries to work on rebuilding but no one knows what to do and diseases keep killing people off. Very grim made-for-TV movie upset many who’d been thinking nuclear war would probably be some fun survivalist thing with guns as cars (as depicted in the adventure-series novels that also thrived around the same time). ABC had to set up a 1-800 line to counsel upset viewers, and Karl Sagan and William F. Buckley had a debate right afterward, in which Buckley got his ass pwned. Reagan watched it and sent in lots of suggestions for re-editing. Advertisers wouldn’t buy ad time for the second hour so it aired with no commercial interruptions. Scary in the first half and slow and sad in the second.
Watch the whole thing on YouTube starting here:
Great Gabbo, The (B&W, 1929) Eric Von Stroheim is a maniacally-irritable, superstitious, narcissistic ventriloquist whose abusive behavior finally runs off his long-suffering assistant, Mary, even though she patiently tried to find some good in him (and decided his only nice side is what he expresses through his dummy, Otto). Von Stroheim talks to Otto like he's alive, and gets in violent arguments with it. After he becomes a big Broadway hit, Von Stroheim and Otto have dinner in a restaurant every night, carrying on public conversations. Otto occasionally sings songs while Von Stroheim eats, including an easy-to-make fun of tune about making icky with his lollipop! The only thing worse than Otto's songs are his truly embarrassing jokes, and Von Stroheim's "feats of ventriloquism" (eating, drinking water, smoking, stuffing handkerchiefs in his mouth) aren't impressive because Otto is an obvious voice-over. Since this is an early talkie, I don't know if audiences were supposed to be fooled into thinking it was legit or not, but you have to remember that people used to tune in to listen to Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy on the freaking radio, so they may not have been too picky about actual displays of skill. They meet Mary again and try to mend fences, but when Von Stroheim learns that Mary is already married to someone else, he really loses his mind. The film's also heavily padded with musical numbers, presumably to take advantage of the sound technology. They're all pretty bad, but one of them -- in which people dressed as flies dance in a giant spider web while a guy in the funniest spider outfit ever sings -- is pants-peeing hilarious. This is the granddaddy of the lucrative ventriloquists-are-crazy genre, and an odd viewing experience in that you end up feeling pretty embarrassed for Stroheim, who had made masterpieces like Greed and then had his talkie debut in such a humiliating role.
The Lollipop song:
The hilarious spider-web number:
House of the Yellow Carpet (C, 1983) aka La Casa Del Tappeto Giallo. A young couple put an ad in the paper, trying to sell a huge, ugly yellow rug. While the husband's off dealing with some people who are towing away his car, a creepy guy with a crippled arm shows up to look at the carpet. He acts very strange, helping himself to coffee and accusing the wife of telling lies and saying that her husband is in cahoots with him to kill her. He says he killed his wife on a rug just like the one they have, and makes all kinds of accusations, getting increasingly threatening and keeping the wife prisoner. Eventually the wife stabs him to death on the carpet, and then a strange woman shows up, looking for her husband, who she claims is an unbalanced ex-actor who talks his way into people's houses and then improvises weird theatrical scenarios. Then the wife wakes up with her husband, wondering if any of it actually happened. She's sure it did, but the husband says she just dreamed it all. Is she right, or is she crazy, or is it all some twisted conspiracy? Odd, stylish late-entry Italian giallo with some real intensity and strangeness and an intriguing plot. It's got some blood but is fairly light in the gore department, although a scene of a guy injecting drugs under his eyelid may make you cringe. Bizarre obscurity I found on a used VHS tape at an old video store, this one doesn't show up in most books but it's good enough for someone to consider releasing it on DVD. The video box lies about the content of the movie, claiming supernatural stuff.
House With The Laughing Windows (C, 1976) aka La Casa Dalle Finestre Che Ridono, House With The Windows That Laugh, House of the Laughing Windows. Pupi Avati film that’s one of the ultimate classics of Italian horror, and of horror cinema, period. Stefano, a young artist, is hired to restore a fresco on a church wall, painted by a brilliant-but-mad artist, Legani, who was known as the “painter of agony” due to his realistic depictions of torture. Stefano is very intrigued by Legani’s work, but receives mysterious warnings to stop work on the painting. A man who’s also researching the painter promises to take him to a “house with laughing windows,” where he’ll learn more, and then calls him with urgent info about the painter’s methods, but is thrown off a tall building before he can relay the secret. Stefano also discovers that the village has more than its share of eccentrics, such as a young imbecile who likes to put live rats in coffins to keep corpses company. Stefano learns more secrets about the painting, and thinks that Legani’s sisters helped him paint by torturing models to death while Legani painted. He also learns that Legani set himself on fire and ran into the woods, but his body was never found. As Stefano gets closer to the truth about the painting, though, someone destroys it so he’ll have no reason to stay. By now he’s too intrigued, though, and continues his investigations... but the things he learns he may regret, and the secrets are darker and more morbid and horrific than he (or we) could possibly guess. This movie is brilliantly realized in that the viewer unravels this puzzle as Stefano does, and we’re as surprised as he is every step of the way. Even once you know what’s going on, it gets creepier with repeat viewings. One thing you really must do on your first viewing, though, is to watch it in one sitting, preferably alone, and give it your full concentration; failing to do that would cost you one of the greatest cinematic experiences of your life.
You're better off just going and getting the movie and not even watching this trailer, but, what the hell...
Maneater of Hydra (C, 1967) aka La Isla De La Muerte, Island of the Dead, Island of the Doomed, The Bloodsuckers, Death Island. A car full of travelers end up at the villa of eccentric botanist Cameron Mitchell, after running down one of his servants, a terrified man who Cameron claims was already dying from an incurable disease. At dinner Cameron serves mutated vegetables -- "it looks like a cucumber but it tastes just like meat!" After dinner he shows off hybrid vegetables he's developed, such as a huge, tentacled flytrap that eats mice. Then corpses start showing up, drained of blood, and everybody thinks a vampire is on the loose, but of course that's totally ridiculous -- it's a giant blood-sucking plant! When another botanist finds out, Mitchell kills him via a pretty absurd little blade hidden in a statue of Shiva. He blames his mute servant for the killing, but the servant tries to escape on a bicycle. Sorry, but no amount of dramatic chase music can make footage of an old man riding a bicycle look intense. The plant attacks some more of the guests, and yet they're still slow to catch on. Clumsy Spanish horror with hilariously bad dubbing (made even better by over-the-top acting from several of the performers... but oddly not Mitchell, who's more restrained than usual (at least until the end, where he gets pretty unhinged). Appropriately enough for a man-eating plant movie, this was directed by the guy who played Gravis Mushnik in Little Shop of Horrors. This was a rarely-seen (although not particularly sought-out) title until it came out on an Elvira DVD... and that was apparently mastered from a second-generation tape struck from a graining full-frame print, with some tracking issues. Has a fair amount of blood, at least, and a little atmosphere.
I was just going through my record collection, and I got a little bored, so I decided to look at some of the records I don't own, because they don't exist. Just because a band doesn't actually exist doesn't stop them from having a discography and a history, y'know. And there are a lot more bands that don't exist than do exist. The bands that don't exist are unlimited! You could keep a lot of nonexistent radio stations in business a long time just playing their works. So, I decided we should probably familiarize ourselves with a few of these bands, so we'll know what we're not missing.
First up, there's classic Lithuanian rockabilly garage outfit from the late 1980's, Hooter Stupid & The I Forgot. They had several albums that didn't sell worth a damn, not because of poor quality music, but because of a slight language barrier that cost them a little credibility. Perhaps most famous was Going Public With My Privates, which contained such songs as "When Is Funny? (I Say Now!)" and "Them's Eatin' Dumplings!" Their album of bar-fight songs, Catching A Cold From The Bacteria Of Fists, contained songs like "I Kick You Now In The Garbanzo," Gonna Go Out And Get Flabbergasted," "Clouds Fly Out Of You As I Hit" and "La La La Go Fuck Yourself Dippyshit," which were pretty catchy but frightened much of their intended audience. They tried to make a comeback in 2003 with a politically-charged album called Doesn't Anyone Want To Impress Jodie Foster Anymore? but considering few remembered they existed in the first place, the "comeback" didn't really get anyone very excited. The song "Gimme Some Tits" wasn't bad, though.
Colorado's alterna-rockers, Community Service Project, never got out of the demo stage, despite such interesting songs as "Giddy With Misery," "Armed To The Teats," "Pretty As A Carbuncle," and "Cold-Cocked By A Zombie Gigilo." They broke up and the singer went on to form a punk band called The Ain't Got No Rights, who managed to release one 7" on the Scratchy Records label, containing the songs "It's Adolph & Eva, Not Adolph & Stevea!" and "(Theme From) Godfather On Ice," which were more noteworthy for the ad-libbed banter in the background after the songs, such as "If you hear a puppy fart, that means you win!" and "I eat prunes, man, I turn into a can of Silly String!"
Then there was the prog-rock band, The Vestibules, whose sole album Skulking In The Cloakroom was so boring that it's believed no one has ever listened to the whole thing voluntarily. The song titles, such as "Futons Off The Port Bow" and "Behold A Carrot Came A-Ridin'" promised far more imagination than the pointless, repetitive noodling found therein delivered.
Then there was Portland alternative rockers Passwind, whose album This Record Is Fourteen Dollars, did garner a few fans... specifically Larry, Reginald, Chet, Frank, and Matt. Their follow-up, Dung Beetle's Delight, fell to the dreaded "third album curse," even though it was only their second. It did have a minor novelty hit with "The Montel Williams Song," which consisted of rants against teen pregnancy set to music.
Then there's Christian rockers, Damascus Road, whose lack of grammar knowledge and ignorance of DNA resulted in the hilariously titled Jesus In My Jeans. They published an apology titled "We Meant GENES!" in the national Christian newsletter, The Voice of the Fundament, but everybody ignored them anyway. The guitarist later showed up in an obscure psychedelic band called The Soft-Offs, who had an album called Fish, Horse, Train, Rope, which was incredibly stupid.
Then brainless metal band, Iron Flyswatter, had an album called Me Use Tool! that's famous for having a song called "Devil's Meatloaf" that had a riff very similar to Metallica's later "Enter Sandman." Other songs, like "Big Head Little Head," "Tooth of the Horror Bastard" and "Butthammer" were hardly remarkable for any reason. The singer's funk-band side project, Mr. Pissstick (with Kiss lightning-bolt S's in the logo) were even less successful with their album, Shake Yo' Whatchamacallit, Grandchile! When it was once played for Stevie Wonder, he famously said, "What's this happy horseshit?"
And, of course, who can remember I Live In A Cardboard Box That's Really Stinky by Grandpa Moses, the Sacramento band headed by Twelve-Finger Phillip Turnip, a completely mad Frank Zappa wannabe. His "solo album" project, Douchemania Bingo Night, consisted of pointless tracks in which Turnip farted into a harmonica, tried to make sneezing noises with a guitar (in a song called "Journal of the Plague Year"), used a drumset made up of various types of melons to cover "Moby Dick," and had a cow as a vocalist for one song. You can actually feel your brain growing stupider as you listen to this album, like Saran Wrap being peeled off a Jello mold. At last report he was engaged in message-board flame-wars with a guy who he believed was the ghost of Roky Erikson.
Of course, there's also lame soft-rock band band, Puckered Starfish, with their album Nights Without Pants, featuring embarrassing songs like "Why Don't You Love Me?" and "I Tried So Hard." The few who've sat through this whiney drivel swear the band "makes Bread look like Black Sabbath."
One of the all-time great unheard country albums is by The Lonesome Dogpeckers, their Hoedown On Aisle Five LP, featuring the vocal talents of Lester "Whisker-Bisquit" Grootimus, whose inarticulate hollering gives you an idea what Tom Waits might sound like if he had a seizure. Even though you can't make out a single word, you get the idea that the lyrics to songs such as "Toothless Fool," "Done Run Out Of Paper And I'm Stranded," "Tampa Tampax," and "Found Me A Penny (And If I Find Me Another I'm Gone Do Me Some Jinglin')" would probably be just ass-stupid if you could decipher them.
Which brings us to The Dinglefairies, whose album Festooned In Doo Doo can only be considered a prank played on the American record-buying public. They clamed to be retarded and started a movement called "Tardcore Punk." In actuality they were probably just stupid, untalented, and insensitive. It wasn't nearly as vulgar as the follow-up album, Stinking Like A Trout's Twat, which they recorded as "Blue Oyster Cunt" as a joke. Their singer, Joey Funnyhelmet, billed himself as "Charles The Grinning Boy" for that record. The ribbing of B.O.C. was further evident by naming songs "Transvestimiacon P.U." and "Harvester Of Testicles," although a cover of "Career of Evil" included as an unlisted bonus track was far more reverent, even if Funnyhelmet did accompany himself on the song with frantic armpit-farts. The song "Don't Fear The Queefer" also reached new heights in lows with the flatulently obnoxiousness tale of a girlfriend with vaginal blasts. Funnyhelmet's post-song background yell of "Was that Miles Davis?" is considered a classic ad-lib by some people, but those people are stupid and you probably shouldn't listen to what they say.
Then there's Tater Float, featuring the singer of late-60's surf rockers The Failures, known mostly for doing the theme song for the short-lived TV show Strike Force Cleveland. Tater Float released several demos but could never get anybody interested in their minimalist garage-rock sound until they finally released a 7" of two songs, "Where Am I And Who Are These Guys?" backed with "Itchy Belly Blues." That gained them enough attention from the mentally ill to encourage Tater Float to release a full-length LP called I Can't Believe It's Not Music, which contained three songs about roller-blading, in hopes of latching onto a fad and gaining a new audience. Considering this came out in 2007, though, their timing was off.
Then there's Frownpandafrown, a "college rock" band made up of smartypantses whose "concept album" about playing mah jong failed to connect, possibly due to the obscurity of the title, Chicken Skin Robe. The drummer, after a debilitating brain injury that happened during the misuse of one of the rides at Six Flags Over Georgia, went on to form hard-drinkin' hard rock unit Claude Casket And The Premature Burials, who enjoyed some success with the nonparticular with albums like Don't Hand Me No Ass (featuring the anthem "Don't You Call My Mama A Cunt," which became kind of a rallying cry for people who were tired of having their mothers called a cunt) and For Medicinal Purposes Only, which included their trademark song "Ain't Gonna Eat My Peas," which struck a chord with rebellious pre-teens. Then they released an album that was considered a sell-out, Joke Rubber Wishbone Trick, which was too much of a progression for their base, most of whom still considered Ted Nugent a vital force in the music industry. They tried for a comeback with a live album -- When The Shit Hits The Fans -- and another studio effort, Addicted To Punches In The Face, where they tried to "harden" their sound, but their fanbase found it hard to shake the memory of JRWT's weaker efforts (especially the embarrassing power-ballad "She's Like A Candy Bar To Me") and left them on the racks and then in the cut-out bins. They played a few shows with artsy-fartsy (but more fartsy than artsy) rockers Plaid Mentality, who put out one album on their own Damp Laundry Records label, God In My Heart, Devil In My Pants, which one Creem reporter famously reviewed as "This is what Hawkwind might sound like if they took drugs." The guitarist's side-project, Pissypants, fared little better with their barely-released cassette-only release, The Dog's Barking Seemed To Come From Everywhere, which tried to do instrumentals in which the sole instrument was a ring modulator. Few had the patience to sit through that album, and the few who did couldn't afford to buy a copy because they spent all their money on quaaludes and weed.
Another band of the era, Pastiche, put out an album, Something To Listen To While The Paint Dries, but the kindest review it got speculated that the album was actually a marketing ploy and the band was in collusion with the people who sold aspirin. So they changed their name to Duck Call and put out an album called Boy, Get Off That Frog! One kid named Larry really liked it, but that was the extent of their success. Another album, called Brush With Greatness As An Instruction, was announced but never released. In a strange twist of fate, the singer ended up in a Dixieland jazz band called The Spreaders of Glee who put out an album called A Flavorful Salute To The 39 States that was only sold in Wisconsin gift shops.
Then there was Good Company, marketed as a “positive alternative to Bad Company,” whose debut album, Benign, was hailed as a classic by people who liked songs about ice cream and being kind to bunnies. The follow-up, None More Unthreatening, had a minor AM radio hit in “It’s All Going To Work Out,” but then the singer, Kit Treebush, snapped from all the forced joviality and put out a solo album called There’s Not Enough Beer In The Goddamned World, which was “too dark” and terrified their timid fanbase. Only the drummer, the good-natured Lanky Larry, stayed in the music business, putting out an album of soft-rock under his own name, called Bird Calls For Buffalos. The title proved apt, as it never found an audience, since Air Supply’s crowd had all died from cystic mediocrity by then.
Then there was poser-metal outfit, Opportunist, whose straightforwardly-titled LP, Songs About Tits And Fast Cars For Electric Guitar, sold a few copies, mostly in Tupelo, MS, where most people actually have a favorite Trixter song.
Prog-art rock band Young Man Testicular got too smart for their own good by putting out an album called Covers Of Songs By Yes, which actually contained no songs by Yes, but because people had been led to believe it did, no one bought it. Too bad, because many think the song “More Like Kansas” could have been a hit.
Punkers Cess Bisquit (later changed to Lavatory Bisquit to avoid confusion with the Boston band of the same name) had moderate success with an EP called Secret Government, but it didn’t go far because everyone agreed that Corrosion of Conformity was better, so why not listen to them instead? They toured briefly with The Jerk-Off Escapees, who released an EP called Lichens On My Grey Skull and got written up in Flipside as “Des Moines answer to Fish-Slapper.” But no one remembers who the hell Fish-Slapper was, and that’s the problem. Singer Jimmy Yerdoor went on to form a band called Duck The Coathanger and released several albums -- Sunset In The East Today, Driving Under The Influence of Model Glue, House of the Rising Sonofabitch, and Free Cupcakes Make Me Suspicious -- and was finally jailed for defecating on Jimmy Stewart’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, when under the influence of detergent. When he got out he tried for a reunion and put out an album called Gimmie Them Pants that was so bad it was considered a parole violation and sent him back to the pen. Since then he’s released a book called Bologna In My Underpants: Tales From The Greasy Side of Armageddon, consisting of his tour diaries, but as he’s a functional illiterate no one’s really read it, including him. His brother runs an incredibly ignorant country-rock band called Texas Tex and the Titty Honkers who put an album called You Done Been Tole out, featuring such embarrassing-if-they-had-enough-self-awareness tunes as “Now That She’s Done Left Me I Gotta Pick Up The Dogshit My Own Self,” “How You Figure The Washing Machine Works?” “Sure Could Use Me Some Bacon,” “Goddamn We Outta Pabst,” “Cryin’ On Mah Potbelly,” and “Mean Ol’ Tornader.” Plus a cover of Conway Twitty’s unreleased song, “I Wish I Was Your Chapstick.”
Then there’s another little-known punk band, Scoliosystem, who released an album called Sick To My Pants, in which they took on Ronald Reagan six years after he was already out of office. It didn’t sell so they tried again with an album called Raped By Captain America, which got them sued by Marvel Comics, so the few copies of the album that weren’t confiscated and burned fetch high dollars on Ebay, even though the songs, such as “I’m In Love With Your Spaniel,” “Lunch Box Fulla Nothin’,” “The Other Thing That Smells Like Fish,” and “Do The Scrotum Shake” are truly lackluster.
Shitty just-regular-boring-rock band The Bristols released an album called Smarty Pants And Smarty Socks that sounded pretty much like a manila envelope would sound if it tried to do Counting Crows songs. The follow-up, Bug Propellant, sounded a lot like The Lemonheads, so naturally nobody wanted to listen to it, either. Still, they soldiered on and released Boss of the Insubordinates before calling it a career.
Then there’s yet another pretentious prog-rock band, The Fantastic Slide-Rule Band, who more most famous for doing a concept album based on the works of Gustav Flaubert. Kerrang said, “Listening to this album is every bit as fun as reading Flaubert,” which - oddly enough - the band took as an insult and got really angry. The singer, apparently having a real Flaubert hang-up, later got a sex change and did cabaret shows under his new name, Madam Bovary. The guitarist, completely alienated from his prog-rock roots, formed a rockabilly punk band called The Lawdamercies, which played hardcore songs that all had the exact same lyrics -- “I want my rights right now/ And if I don’t get ‘em, then, well, I don’t know what!” It was mostly known for the gimmick of the singer continuing his mohawk on his back hair and chest hair. Eventually the fickle guitarist quit his punk band, became a drummer, and formed a metal band called Leigelord. He didn’t know what kind of metal band he wanted it to be, though, so it pleased only the likewise confused. They had a minor hit with a speed metal song called “Quicker Than Bunnyfuck,” but since the lyrics of the song were all about how fast the song was, it was looked upon as a “novelty thing.” That prompted the drummer to angrily form a really sarcastic pop group called “Novelty Thing,” which released an album called Just Out Of Spite. Then he turned up dead from eating too much lettuce. From the ruins of that band came a metalized punk band called Ol’ Bitchuary, which unfortunately used up all their cleverness on their band name.
Around the same time, a GWAR-type cartoon band based on redneck/hillbilly stereotypes started up. Known as Methy Marvin, the band members had fake names like Mrs. Hippie, Ali Bama, Louis Iana and -- inexplicably -- Otto Von Giggledick. Their album, Not Priapic, But Postapic, contained such songs as “A Poo-Poo Will Be Your Gravestone!”, “Fuck You, Minister Squadron!”, “Mr. Dippyfuck Is Your Superior!” “I Laugh At You Thusly, Hee Hee Hee!”, “You Are The Target!”, “Everywhere Will Be The Fragrance of Defeats!”, “Viva Yourdeath!” and “I Don’t Like When Everything Is Groovy!” caught on with people who like exclamation points in all their song titles. Their follow-up album, Completely Missing The Zeitgeist, contained even weirder songs such as “Your Face Is Merely For Decoration,” “It Would Be Interesting To See Two Masochists Fighting,” “Damn Ye All For A Lot O’ Merry Shitasses!” and “Oh, You Unpleasantly Damp Stale Mouthful Of Puppetdust, How Thoroughly You Lack Flair!” They broke up and the bassist, Saul Dundergarmets, formed a band called Filibuster, whose sole CD consisted of one really, really long song. Nobody got the joke and the band disappeared soon after.
More later, perhaps, if idiocy compels me...
I used to read McSweeney's Lists on a regular basis. While never too consistent, they routinely provided me with an opportunity to stroke my chin and say "That's pretty damn clever"...
Personals From Nonpersons
– Toyota Prius seeks irritating pseudoenvironmentalist for smug attitude and poorly informed dinner-party rant on Middle Eastern oil politics.
– California relocation for "fresh start" seeks disaster-prone individual for postmove loneliness and employment difficulties followed by crippling "sleep all day" depression episode.
– Cringe-inducing racist remark seeks grandfather for slip of the tongue during family get-together.
– Tedious recounting of last night's nonsensical dream seeks potential suitor on first date for obliteration of second-date possibility.
– Surprisingly explicit and seemingly unending movie sex scene seeks family for very uncomfortable viewing moment.
...or to chuckle a bit...
New Anxiety Medications for Coping With Economic Gloom
"If I Had A Mjöllnir"
"Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Skald"
"Faroe's Army Got Drowned"
"Follow The Drinkin' Horn Of Mead"
"Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jötunheimr"
"Sven, Olaf, Sigurd, Snorri, Harald, Ivar, Hagbard, Starkad, Haki, Bovar, Hrolf, Magnus, Haamund, Bersi, Bragi, Heimdall, Hakon, Cnut, Erik, Ingjald, Skjalf, and Mikkel, Row The Boat Ashore"
...or to laugh until I cry and make my office neighbors wonder what the fuck is wrong with me...
Common Illnesses at the Vatican
A bad case of the Antichrists
St. Francis of Alopecia
Party Games ForThe Recession
Bobbing for Pride
Seven Minutes in Debtor's Prison
Hot Potato Famine
Spin the Bottle and Then Redeem It for Ten Cents
Stiff as a Board, Light as Your Wallet
Chutes and More Fucking Chutes
Hungry, Hungry Children
Neat, eh? Before long, I started thinking in these kinds of lists, and I eventually grew bold enough to send them a list of my own (they invite such submissions by putting "[Send your list submissions to email@example.com.]" at the top of the lists page). Here's the first one I sent them:
The Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Imperative Mood: A Complete Chronological List
“Get Up and Jump” (1984)
“Fight Like a Brave” (1987)
“Knock Me Down” (1989)
“Taste the Pain” (1989)
“Show Me Your Soul” (1990)
“Give It Away” (1991)
“Suck My Kiss” (1991)
“Get On Top” (1999)
“Don’t Forget Me” (2002)
“Save the Population” (2003)
“Strip My Mind” (2006)
“Tell Me Baby” (2006)
“Torture Me” (2006)
“Turn It Again” (2006)
Not bad, pretty clever if I do say so my own self, but they turned it down (with a polite e-mail), and I was OK with that. I still think even this list is better than the most recent five they've posted, but no worries. I soon thought of another list, and, after working up the courage to submit again (wussy, I know, but a mild rejection is still a rejection), I sent it to them:
If Snoop Dogg Were Al Pacino
Dogg Day Afternoon
…And Justizzle for Izzle
Stank of a Ho
Tha Insider (on Cinemax After Dark)
They rejected this list too, which didn't surprise me considering my previous turn-down coupled with this list's relative crudeness, but I have to admit I laughed out loud when I thought of Stank of a Ho. Ah well. I now figured I was just not McSweeney's material and did not know the right people (read: anyone), and I told myself I wasn't going to submit again.
And then, walking across campus one day, I thought of another fake movie title, completely out of the blue: There Won't Be Blood. This too made me laugh out loud, prompting four or five people around me to jerk their heads in my direction. I thought about what I liked in that fake title, and it's the idea of taking an extreme, violent-sounding title and rotating it 180 degrees, so that the promise of splattery action ("in this story, there will be blood") turns into a promise of mildness ("in this story, there won't be blood"). Thus was born the following list, my best and surely last submission to the total douchebags at McSweeney's:
Movies for the Faint of Heart
There Won’t Be Blood
12 Irritable Men
Pass Away Softly
Pass Away Softly with Reluctance
The 400 Glancing Blows
Some Like It Warm
Debate at the OK Corral
Lock, Stock, and Two Downy Pillows
Kind of a Country for Old Men
Throne of Platelets
The Gods Must Be a Bit Odd
A Clockwork Lavender
The So-So Train Robbery
Ail, Ail, My Darling
Baked Green Tomatoes
A Few Details About Eve
The Anxious Moment in Needle Park
Stainless Steel Magnolias
Comfortably Outside the Line of Fire
The Amityville Startling
The Bourne Request
Fair Will Hunting
A Man for a Few Seasons
It’s an OK Life
I must tell you that I was nearly certain they would publish this one. It's relatively long, and some of them are obvious (Some Like It Warm, Apocalypse Soon), but I think some of them are not only really funny and clever but also – and this is key – exactly like the type of lists they seem to want. Ail, Ail My Darling? Baked Green Tomatoes? The amount of piss, vinegar, blood, and steely resolve that Kind of a Country for Old Men sucks out of its for-real counterpart? All the romantic drama and sweeping epic-ness that Lusitania doesn't even pretend to promise? Dude, FUCK MCSWEENEY'S!
So even though this rejection was as friendly as the others (their exact reply: "Hi, John - Appreciate your giving us a shot with this one, but I'm afraid we're not going to use it. Best, C***"), I'm pissed about it, immaturely so (as if you couldn't tell), to the extent that I (a) deleted links to them on my website and Facebook profile, and (b) will not provide a direct link to them here, either. That'll show 'the bastards.
I thought about doing a smear piece on them similar to Doug Stanhope's bit on Hertz Rent-a-Car, but I'm neither as funny nor as brave as him, so I bitched out. (I actually typed in here the big punch line from Stanhope's Hertz bit, but as a parent I couldn't bring myself to post something that horrible on the internet, and YouTube doesn't seem to have a clip. You should still check it out, though; it's hilarious.)
The last 30 seconds of "whoa" stuff in here is about as classic as anything gets for me. (imbed didn't come up for me, but you can see it on YouTube here - it's the best audio quality out of any of these clips)
One of the greatest oi choruses ever. "Just a casualty, got nothin' to say, with your hands tied back, victim of the state!"
So, that plug over, on to the movie mayhem. I didn't really plan to include such a disproportionate number of Dana Andrews movies in this one, but it just kinda worked out that way. Eh, whatdehell.
Astounding She-Monster, The (B&W, 1957) aka Mysterious Invader, The Naked Invader. A sinisterly-purring narrator tries in vain to convince us that this ultra-cheap sci-fi flick is scary. A glowing, buxom female alien who wears a skin-tight silver suit and kills with a touch crash lands in the backwoods, right where some kidnappers are going with a rich woman they've abducted. A geologist and his faithful collie Egan (the actor's actual pet) are doing experiments in the area and the kidnappers make him hide them out at his cabin, where they eventually have to join forces to defeat the alien. She's a very accommodating monster; after she crashes through a window she stands there patiently while the humans build a torch with which to attack her. People have to wait around to be grabbed by the slowly-strolling alien, who makes the mummy look like a track star. She can usually be escaped just by leaving the room. I’m not sure that constitutes “astounding,” but the 50’s were a more easily-impressed decade. Scenes swap between day and night a lot. Gets a little tedious even though it’s only an hour long, but it’s pretty funny overall.
"Here is a power that frightens the deer in the forest!"
Cleopatra Jones (C, 1973) Tamara Dobson is "6 feet 2 inches of dynamite" and a one woman war on drugs as she goes against a wildly-overacting Shelly Winters (as a crime kingpin called "Mommy") in this blacksploitation classic. Special agent Cleo calls in an airstrike on one of Shelly's $30 million poppy fields, so Shelly has a junkie rehabilitation house that Cleo runs as a charity framed for drugs (which racist cop Bill "the redneck in Deliverance who got some" McKinney is all too happy to do). That pisses Cleo off, and pissing her off is a bad idea. She keeps an arsenal in the door panel of her custom black Corvette and is skilled in martial arts. Cleo presides over loads of cartoonish action, in which she never has any trouble outfighting, outdriving, and outshooting any bad guy she comes up against. The clowns who make up Shelly's criminal empire don't have a chance. Dobson gets to wear lots of weird outfits and headgear (although her huge Afro still looks better than any of 'em) and everyone in the cast is basically just there to be impressed with her; wherever she goes crowds gather to gawk and say variations on "Ooo-WEE, that sistah is BAD!" There's a good cast full of lots of black TV talent, including Esther Role from Good Times, Teddy Wilson from That's My Mama, Antonio Fargas from Starsky & Hutch, Albert Popwell from all the Dirty Harry movies, and a cameo from Don Cornelius of Soul Train ("the hippest trip in America!") fame. Very entertaining blacksploitation that's got less violence and nudity than most; in fact, it's pretty mild, but still boasts a good car chase with that badass 'Vette and a climactic junkyard battle with a horrifically-leather-clad Shelly Winters. Written by Max Julien, who starred in The Mack, and directed by Jack Starrett. Followed by Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold. You can watch the whole movie online starting here.
Or skip to the badmamajama car chase (how many times does she downshift that thing? and how many car chases have been filmed in that canal?):
Cobra, The (C, 1967) aka Il Cobra. Mike Rand (horror and Spaghetti Western star Peter Martel) is a spy who’s been disgraced, but Dana Andrews knows he’s the only agent badass enough to bring down the Cobra, a Red Chinese organization that’s dumping millions of dollars in heroin into the American market to turn everyone into easily-conquered junkies. Since they killed his ex-girlfriend, a reluctant Rand takes the case and shakes up the Istanbul underworld. A James Bond type this guy ain’t -- he acts like an asshole most of the time and looks kind of slobby. He notices black chrysanthemums everywhere, finds drugged girls used as robotic slaves, and learns the bad guys are trying to ship the drugs in an oil tanker. This gets a little hard to follow at times but leads to a huge fight at the end. It comes across as a filmed Nick Carter novel, and the Cobra bits are ironically similar to the G. I. Joe bad guys, right down to the masked “Cobra commander.” A “Never say never” line at the end anticipates a James Bond film.
Creepy Crawlers (C, 2000) aka They Nest. A doctor loses his nerve and can no longer operate, so he moves to an island off the coast of Maine to fix up an old house he bought. The local New Englandah rednecks aren't very friendly, especially John Savage, whose father's house the doctor bought for lapsed taxes, so when cockroaches start showing up all over his house he thinks they're playing pranks to run him off. But when dead bodies with their innards replaced by roach pupae start turning up all over the place, it's evident that a swarm of carnivorous African cockroaches has infested the island and is using human bodies (and not always dead ones) as incubators. Soon there are billions of these critters and they're starting to fly, so there's nowhere to hide from them. Good old-school killer bug horror reminiscent of the 70's AIP classics, but with updated special effects that lead to effectively ookie swarm scenes. Don't let the whack title or the fact that this was made for TV throw you off, it's not a bad little film.
Dark Ride (C, 2006) A group of teens on a road trip get the bright idea to break into a carnival fun house and spend the night. This particular fun house has a bad history because a psycho named Jonah killed a pair of twins there years before, while emulating some of the horror scenes on the ride. Well, wouldn'tcha know that Jonah appears to be back just in time to kill off this new batch of teens in various gruesome ways, while wearing the creepy face torn off of a mannequin? Okay slasher film on a tight budget, but not particularly scary or compelling, mostly because the film has no sense of place; characters are running around from one dark, ramshackle place to another and you never really get any momentum out of it. There are a few good gore effects (decapitation, a too-neatly split head) and some not bad attempts at creating atmosphere, but overall it's just mediocre. But, if you like slasher films and aren't too picky, it might be worth diving into Wal-Mart's five-buck bin to look for it.
Hot Rods To Hell (C, 1967) aka 52 Miles To Terror. This camp classic was planned as a TV movie but was judged to be too exploitative so it went to theaters instead. Dana Andrews (who's skittish behind the wheel after a Christmastime car accident, kind of reminiscent of his skittish -pilot role in Zero Hour!) and his ridiculously square conservative family unit head to California to run a motel... but when they arrive they find highway mayhem from an early Mad Max style gang of hot-rodding juvenile delinquents. They don't actually do much but drive around him in an obnoxious manner, but it throws the whole uptight whitebread family into a panic and no amount of horn-blowing on Dana's part will save the problem (although he certainly seems to think it will for a while). Wife Jeanne Crain stays near hysterics. The hoodlums try to seduce Dana's pretty daughter (much to the chagrin of hoodlum girlfriend Mimsy Farmer), who reacts to attention from boys like it's a hypnotic drug; she wants nothing to do with the jerks, but seems compelled to seek out "Duke," their leader, just so she can trembling to tell him to leave her alone. The hot rod kids are pissed because Dana bought the hotel that contains "The Arena," a nightclub where they hang out and listen to a band (Mickey Rooney Jr. and his Combo!) who plays rock songs with lyrics like "Do the chicken walk!" (that's the whole song), and they're sure he'll turn it into some cheesemo family restaurant. And he probably will, too. The teens are a bunch of assholes but Dana's family is so lame and easily-panicked you almost want to root for the bad guys, especially when Dana's reaction to everything is to run away or tattle. He delivers lines like "We're leaving... NOW!" or "I'll get the police!" like he's Dirty Harry holding a Magnum, and his stern lecture to the hoodlums is almost embarrassing to watch, especially since it followed a really impotent-looking symbolic beating of an inanimate object. Since Dana looks so much like FOX News idiot Sean Hannity, and his character acts so uptight and frightened like Sean, it’s kinda fun to pretend that’s who he’s supposed to be. It's hilariously corny stuff but it's well-paced and engaging enough to have been remade a couple of times (once as a made-for-TV movie called Terror on the Beach and once as The Road Killers). One member of the punk band The Dictators listed this as his favorite movie.
Hang out through the Young Runaways trailer and it'll come up.
They Don’t Cut The Grass Anymore (C, 1985) Another gory tour of the backyards of Long Island from home-movie maker Nathan Schiff. This one’s intended to be a comedy with social commentary, and it’s his goriest work, and also the most blatantly plotless, mainly because it had to be filmed in five days before his start left to work in the Peace Corps. Class warfare becomes hands-on when a couple of hillbillies from Texas (Arkansas would have been more believable for this brand of yokel) who’ve been doing yard work for New York yuppies decide to start killing them instead. One of the hillbillies has raccoon makeup around his eyes for some reason, and the other wears a rubber mask. They engage in nearly-constant, pointless mayhem, resulting in extreme gore effects of varying quality (at some points wads of cotton were used as intestines, and it looks more like somebody fishing for an aspirin than a disembowelment). There are decapitations, heads chopped open and pulled apart, one girl completely mangled to a pile of meat, and various bites, stabs, and gunshots. Many of the effects are deliberately fake-looking (such as the use of a blow-up doll) to keep the nastiness on a comic level. It’s more skillfully done than Schiff’s previous films (Weasels Ripped My Flesh and Long Island Cannibal Massacre) but that’s no endorsement, and this is mainly of interest to those who like backyard filmmaking or people who are very unparticular about where their chainsaw mayhem comes from. It’s fun for what it is.
Zero Hour! (B&W, 1957) It’s safe to consider this Airport ‘57, because it would fit into that series perfectly. Some bad fish served on a commercial flight incapacitates both pilots and many passengers. There’s a traumatized fighter pilot (Dana Andrews) on board, but he’s never flown a plane anywhere near that size and has avoided flying since the war because he caused his whole squadron to crash into the ground, but he’s still the best bet the passengers have. An old war buddy with no confidence in him (the great Sterling Hayden) has to try to talk him down (imagine Sterling Hayden trying to calm you!), but there are a lot of factors working against him, like fog, a storm, his own flashback-raddled nerves, and a time factor (the poisoned passengers -- including Dana’s son -- will die if they don’t get prompt treatment). This was the main movie sourced for parody by Airplane!, but it’s actually pretty intense stuff. It does lay the groundwork for some of the disaster movie cliches that would follow, but they’re not overbearing or silly here. Remade for TV as Terror in the Sky.
And here's comparisons with Airplane!