Thursday, December 27, 2007


(Continually we will spotlight films that are only available on VHS and of course are available at Rocket Video)


    LAST SUMMER (Perry 1969)

What a find (based on a book by Evan HunterHitchcock’s The BirdsThe Blackboard Jungle)! Two suntanned blond summer beach boys Dan and Peter (a kinda Leopold And Loeb-Lite) stumble upon the beautiful Sandy and help her rehabilitate an injured pigeon. The three uber-innocent teens become best friends and have a-coming-of-age-summer full of heavy petting, gawking, drooling, drinking a beer (“truth serum”), smoking reefer (they get groovy). 

The three Aryan virgins are played by a future cast of fairly distinguished thespians. Richard Thomas became known to all as John Boy on The Waltons. Bruce Davison fell in love with a rat in Willard (Mann 1971, also only on VHS) and got an oscar nomination for one of the first “mainstream” films about AIDS, Longtime Companion (Rene 1990). And as the cruel object of these boys lust is Barbara Hershey, who went on to be the lust of Peter O’Toole’s twisted film director in the masterpiece The Stunt Man (Rush 1980) and  Michael Caine’s fussy lust in another great flick Hanna And Her Sisters (Allen 1986) and she made Jesus drool in The Last Temptation Of Christ (Scorsese 1988).

Things get really wacky for the trio when a fourth teenybopper joins the gang, the awkward and chubby Rhoda (the terrific Catherine Burns She got a Best Supporting Oscar nomination for this flick and then went on to do a bunch of TV guest parts, Mod SquadAdams-12, etc.). The three slowly start to get meaner and crueler to their new follower until the brutal end. 

What starts out as an innocent adolescent flick in the vain of Summer of '42 (Mulligan 1971) this one really takes some fascinating and shocking psychological turns. Director Frank Perry who before this directed the equally shocking examination of suburban madness, The Swimmer (1969), had a couple of fairly revered seventies cult films with similar themes  Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970) and 

Play It As It Lays (1972). And then did a couple of camp-epics, the ridicules Monsignor (1982) and the histrionic Mommie Dearest (1981). Before his death 1995 he did manage to help to bury Shelly Long’s post TV career with the incredibly forgettable Hello Again (1987). 

Think of this as a little... Thirteen (Hardwicke 2003), Jaws (Spielberg 1975) and maybe, Cruel Intentions (Kumble 1999) but without the shark or the adults.

    WEST BEIRUT (Doueiri 1998)

Ziad Doueiri, having worked as first assistant camera on  Quentin Tarantino films Reservoir Dogs (1992) through Jackie Brown (1997) displays a lot of style and skill in this autobiographical coming-of-age flick. As he also did in his French follow-up Lila Says (2004) another teenage lust epic. Like the boys in Last SummerWest Beirut’s Tarek and Omar just wanna get laid (and listen to American disco tunes). Though instead of fretting over a rainy day at the beach, they have to contend with the Islamic Civil War breaking out in the otherwise westernized Lebanon. All this talk of Islam is also getting in the way of Tarek’s budding romance with a spunky Christian girl May.

Raised by intellectual Liberal parents and attending a French school, Tarek is obviously the stand in for the director, he runs around with a Super-8 camera and wants to direct films. The three teenage actors are wonderfully natural and show potential gifts, but unlike their three American counterparts apparently, sadly they haven’t continued acting.

This is another great lost film that is in need of, say the Criterion DVD treatment. Besides illuminating the similarities of teens of all cultures, like Louis Malle’s childhood flicks, Murmur of the Heart (1971) & Au Revoir, Les Enfants (1987) it’s specific to the filmmaker’s time and place, but everyone can find a little of their own experience in it (don’t we all just wanna catch-a-peek? Er, I mean, don’t they all). It’s also a great tribute to the power of film-making around the world and the dream of escaping our own humdrum existence's through the movies.  


You're A Big Boy Now (Coppola 1966) 

Far from the Madding Crowd (Schlesinger 1967)

Kes (Loach 1969)  

Bless The Beasts & The Children (Kramer 1971) 

Looking For Mr. Goodbar (Brooks 1977) 

Rich Kids (Young 1979)

Little Darlings (Maxwell 1980) 

Baby It’s You (Sayles 1982)

Last Exit to Brooklyn (Edel 1989) 


Monday, December 24, 2007


Why do toys look cooler on the beach, then they do on your living room carpet?
Why do they call him The Astronaut and not Taylor?
They call Zira "The Woman Scientist"
That kid playing with Urko has a deep voice.
Check out the Mego Museum, this place looks like heaven,
I thought they also came out with a Beneath The Planet Of The Apes underground city one after these, but Mego doesn't have it.
Also check out this Planet Of The Apes article (downloadable PDF) from The Monster Times (May 1974) 

Sunday, December 23, 2007

WHAT’S READIN’? 12.23 - nosey

Some random reads from around the way
Though, you have to navigate a shit-load of advertisements  has a great article on the  making of the classic TV special RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER by Rick Goldschmidt (author of The Enchanted World Of Rankin/Bass) It's got everything you could ever want to know about the show that spawned the Island Of Misfit Toys.

This is a fun site with a ton of good reads.

Check out the story on the short lived late night sketch show FRIDAYS, ABC’s nightmare attempt to duplicate NBC’s successful Saturday Night Live

Anne Thompson in Variety reports on the  MPAA rejection the one-sheet for the very acclaimed documentary Taxi to the Dark Side (which is being released in January by Think Films). The MPAA (as usual) playing politics, got their panties-in-a-wad over the art work showing hooded detainee being led by US soldiers.
  I bet if instead, the soldiers were torturing some hot teenage girls in some dank basement the right-wing MPAA wouldn’t have even noticed the poster.
 Over at the excellent documentary site Edendale.Typepad, AJ Schnack’s (the director of the doc Kurt Cobain About A Son, due out on DVD 2/19/08) , has an interview with Taxi To The Dark Side director Alex Gibney about the controversy. Shocking.

 Speaking of docs the International Documentary Association made a list!  

Their 25 Best Documentaries (of all time?)  Respectfully Hoop Dreams (James 1994). Ugh, the over-rated annoying Grizzly Man (Herzog 2005) eked in at 23, just ahead of Night And Fog (Resnais 1955)!

 Maybe more fun, The Documentary Blog’s picks their own top 25.

It’s a little Errol Morris crazy, his quirky pet cemetery doc Gates Of Heaven (1980) came in number one (terrible choice) and had two more in the top ten. Yet no The Fog Of War (2003) They loved Grizzly Man even more then the IDA they put it at 15 and even have the bizarre Project Grizzly (Lynch 1996) on their list, but no Grizzly Adams.

Check out the comments section, my booze filled late night rant is in there.


 Korean director Chang-dong Lee's Secret Sunshine toped Indiewire’s always interesting annual 25 Best Undistributed Films.  Hmmm, curious? Potheads: The Movie did not make the list.

 Todays The New York Times features my favorite film critic Manohla Dargis  top-ten of the year.  

At Rocket I’ve had some lively debates with her, about her number one There Will Be Blood.

 Her colleague A.O. Scott gave his number one spot to the Cannes winning 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. I’m hoping to catch tomorrow (what better way to celebrate the holidays then with a Romanian abortion flick) 

 The ever insane movie-enthusiast Roger Ebert wrote his "The Year's Ten Best Films And Other Shenanigans"

(The other shenanigans? Not sure. I glazed over, something about the flick Once).

My god, only ten! How does he get it down to ten? 

I recall one week alone, he had almost ten 4-star reviews. Mind you that’s four out of 4 stars. ****

That said, a number of the 'masterpieces' that he bestowed 4-stars to didn’t even make his top-ten including Sweeney Todd, The Golden Compass, Starting Out The Evening, The Savages and (yep 4-stars) Romance And Cigarettes. Just what made the 4-stars he gave Across The Universe more top-ten worthy then the others?

Poor Redacted (or The Blair De Palma Witch Project)  Ebert gave it a mere 3 & 1/2-stars, so it would probably barely make his top-thirty films of the year. 

If anyone feels like doing the research... Just how many films did Ebert give 4-stars to this year?

   - sweeneyrules

Saturday, December 22, 2007


 A while back some movie-geek web site had a posting The Best Fight Scenes Of All-Time or something like that. 
It was fun, but as I recall, it was mostly stuff like The Matrix and Spiderman and shit. So periodically we'll be posting memorable fisticuffs they missed (gotta spread it out a few weeks or I want have anytime to watch TV)
 Here's part one: Wine And Dine....

The Ninth Configuration  (William Peter Blatty, 1980) 
 This ponderous "anti war" flick, directed by The Exorcist author Blatty, is dullsville until this wild barroom melee. Stacy Keach as bad-ass Colonel Kane, has to take on an entire biker bar to rescue his patient (Scott Wilson). 

Torn Curtain (Alfred Hitchcock 1966) 
A rather routine cold-war thriller, from the master,  highlighted by this gritty slugfest. Paul Newman brutally struggles for his life against an East German security agent (Wolfgang Kieling) added by the lovely Carolyn Conwell.
      - sweeneyrules

Friday, December 21, 2007

most FAVORITE best DVD

What will win this years ROCKET VIDEO BEST NEW DVDS OF 2007 AWARDS?

My vote, I think is gonna go to...
I'm From Hollywood

With my Second Place vote... (I don't know yet, maybe one of these)

Ace In The Hole (Criterion)  *  Apocalypto  *  Army of Shadows (Criterion)   *  The Beast Must Die (actually it came out on DVD in 2006. I just wanted an excuse to post this Calvin Lockhart pic - thanks! I swiped it from them)  * 
 Blade Runner (Four-Disc Collector's Edition) - the four disc is good enough for me, I haven’t seen the 5 disc’s “work print”  *  Bicycle Thieves (Criterion)  *  Children Of Men * Chinatown (Special Collector's Edition)  *  The Day of the Triffids (BBC 1981) * Spider Baby  *  Taxi Driver (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)  *  2001: A Space Odyssey (Special Collector's Edition) - Or the Clockwork Orange discs,  I can’t vote for the whole  Stanley Kubrick box set, it feels very incomplete, all the color flicks, but no Barry Lyndon?  Just like the Sergio Leone Anthology Box set. Where’s Once Upon A Time In The West (at least toss in  My Name Is Nobody)   *  The Wire - The Complete Fourth Season  
Other’s flicks I love, I’d wanna own... but maybe the over-all disc leaves something to be desired like the oddly low quality Hearts Of Darkness disc or the double disc of Deliverance (nothing much new on it) or the Flash Gordon Savior of the Universe Edition (pointless second disc)

      - sweeneyrules


 Rob Zombie's Halloween Remake

 I don’t wanna be one of those old fuddy-duddies who complains about the state of culture these days or -- even worse -- the state of movies. But after checking out new the “take on” or “re-imagining” or “remake” of John Carpenter’s 1978 slasherpiece Halloween by auteur/rocker Rob Zombie (House Of 1000 Corpses (2003), The Devil’s Rejects (2005))  it’s time to start complaining.

 Now, I won’t claim that horror flicks use to be GOOD and NOW they’re BAD. Generally most horror flicks sucked then and most suck now. Every once in a while a great horror flick appears, like The Exorcist or Rosemary’s Baby. Or maybe one breaks the rules or reinvents the genre, like the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre or The Blair Witch Project. But in general most are quick-buck retreads of what worked for someone else: crap.

 The original Halloween owed some debt to Hitchhock. It had some sprinklings of  Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom (1960) and the tense stylings of more recent flicks from the works of Dario Argento (Deep Red 1975, Suspiria 1977, etc.) and  Richard Fleischer’s See No Evil (1971) and Fred Walton’s When a Stranger Calls (1979). Of course it ended up spawning a gazillion sequels and imitations. No holiday was spared. Like the best in horror, Halloween was about what you didn’t know and what you don’t see (thank god that mechanical shark didn’t work while they were filming Jaws).

 In reviewing Mr. Zombie’s sleazography, one notices his reoccurring stock. What “Bergman citing neurotic Manhattanites” are to Woody Allen, “sleazy, unbathed, cunt-calling hillbillies” are to Mr. Zombie.

The original Halloween started with a quick introduction -- young Michael Myers killing his sister -- and then jumped to fifteen years. The new version spends like the first  forty minutes explaining what a icky environment young Myers lives in. And then he gingerly kills a school bully and then most of his family (what kid with William Forsythe as a perverted drunken stepfather wouldn’t go psycho?).

 Jump to years later in a mental hospital. Myers has become Leatherface with the stoic dignity of The Cuckoos Nest’s Chief. He’s prompted back into his bad boy ways by some rapist yahoo orderlies straight out of Kill Bill. He makes his escape and creeps around town.

Then,  for a little while the movie becomes a straight remake of the original. Myers stalks some teenage chicks trying to baby-sit some brats or bang their goony boyfriends. His shrink Doctor Loomis is hot on his trail (Malcolm McDowell in the Donald Pleasence role), with a lot of spit shooting from his mouth trying to convince the local cops that this “sweet charming little boy is .... Evil”. 

 In the original there was a lot of  Pleasence emoting about good & evil and all that jazz, but Myers was still a mystery to us. Was he supernatural? What was he after? But the new version won’t shut-up. It just keeps spelling it out and explaining itself, as if it purposely wants to stop any suspense from building. Instead of the mystery of the man, it relishes the sadistic mess of the killings. 

 After a half hour of aping the original’s third act, only with more graphic violence, Zombie adds his own coda and we get a another half hour of a girl locked in some kinda basement/ pit/ torture room/ poorly lit set. The girl turns out to be Myers long-lost baby sister and it turns out Myers only wants to reconnect with her, but like that big galoot Lenny in Of Mice and Men he just doesn’t realized that his love kills.

 I will point out I had hope when the movie opened with Kiss’s dark anthem “God of Thunder.” And Zombie does utilize the now-classic original  “Halloween Theme “ that director Carpenter himself composed, on what sounded like a home Casio keyboard. (In another music homage, Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear The Reaper” is briefly heard.)  There is some eerie camera work in the opening act. Sun flares and hand-held, out-of-focus techniques does, at moments, give it the gritty docu feel of, say, the original Chainsaw. But by the middle of the film that style has vanished and it looks like any other serviceable straight to DVD horror flick.

I couldn’t tell if it was suppose to take place in the seventies or in some kind of retro-present, where barbershops and showers have been outlawed. The young Mike Myers does wear a Kiss T-shirt, the cool kind they sell at Target.

 The cast  is full of names you remember from yester-crap (Richard LynchUdo Kier, etc). A strange flick indeed when Brad Dourif comes off as the most likable and normal character. 

The loving stripper white-trash Mother Myers is played by Sheri Moon Zombie, who seems to be the Giulietta Masina to Zombie’s Federico Fellini. I thought maybe it was his wife, until her strip club montage (to the tune of Journey’s “Love Hurts” spliced with the young Michael Myers deep in contemplation whether to trick or to treat). When she only strips down to her dirty undies, I assumed Mrs. Zombie is probably Rob’s big sister or something.

 Okay, now I’m feeling terror “re-imagining” in my head -- say, Hostel’s Eli Roth tackling a remake of the oddball Halloween 3: Season of the Witch. Imagine what the new cool bloody torture the Silver Shamrock could do to folks.