Lighting up the Great White (Elephant) Way.
(Written for the White Elephant Blogathon.) I can only be honest: I don’t have high hopes for this review. I’ve been walking around with exhausted baby-brain while logging my usual sixty hours a week at work and I’ve been drinking because of course I have I’m still me after all. Basically, I’m in dire need of a Saturday night. I don’t mean a literal Saturday...
I (still) got my fifty dollars worth.
There’s currently a Camp and Cult Blogathon going on over at She Blogged by Night. I have a piece that should be ready within the next day or so for it, but while I polish that, I figured I’d dig this one up out of the archives and throw it out as a stopgap. It’s thematically appropriate and… well, I always kind of liked it and had fun putting it together, so any chance...
What I've been doing.
Netflix Video Clerk columns! - This one, on Leaves of Grass, Killers Three and The Grapes of Death. - This one, on Merantau, Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man and the amazing Revolt. - This one, on Bad Company, Into the Abyss and The Boss. - This one, on The Comedy of Terrors, Vampire Circus and Nude for Satan. - This one, on Shadowboxer, My Joy and The Lovers on the Bridge. - This...
Three weeks, three columns to pimp: - This one on J.D’S Revenge, Navajo Joe and Viva Riva!. - This one on The Manitou, At Long Last Love and Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Retribution. - This one on The Double Hour, Boxcar Bertha and Three Bad Sisters. There! All caught up!
Uncle Crizzle & the Crap He's Written: Crizzle's... →
unclecrizzle: April is National Poetry Month, so I thought I’d revisit some old poetry I did in my younger days. The following is an actual poem I wrote back in 1999, which I would later recite at spoken-word poetry nights all over Houston. (If you don’t believe me, holla at most of the Houston folk who follow…
Play you like a violin.
(Part of today’s White Elephant Blogathon hosted by Paul Clark.) Famed German actor/full-tilt psycho Klaus Kinski only directed one film in his lifetime. Ostensibly a biopic about violinist Niccolo Paganini, Kinski Paganini is really more a frenzied act of grotesque creation, a wild and senseless cascade of fevered, sexual images that bludgeon the viewer into thinking A) something...
First: The second edition of my new column of Netflix Instant oddities went up yesterday. In it, I talk about Emperor of the North, Tuesday, After Christmas and Hercules in New York. Take a quick read. Second: Don’t know why I keep forgetting to mention it, but if you were unaware, I’ve been doing a podcast with freelance critic extraordinaire Simon Abrams. We’ve been plugging...
The man behind the counter.
So this happened. I’ve started writing a weekly column about the weird and/or obscure yet worthwhile stuff that can be found in the darker reaches of Netflix Instant. You know, basically writing about the kind of stuff I was gonna watch anyway. The first edition of it went up on Friday. In it, I big-up Pontypool, Deadfall and Dagmar’s Hot Pants, Inc. Expect more like that every week.
Uncle Crizzle & the Crap He's Written: Lorraine,... →
unclecrizzle: OK, here’s the deal. A couple of years ago, I started writing a short story inspired by the photography of friend and colleague Jason Woods, aka Houston DJ/photographer Flash Gordon Parks (like the photo above). I was hoping we could collaborate on some sort of mixtape complete with…
The collection: E
The collection: D
It's that time again!
Winners, commentary and eventual best-film countdown will be forthcoming. It’s a party!
By the way....
If you see anything in the Collection photos that you’d like me to talk about/review/watch and enjoy/throw at a neighbor’s head or whatever, speak up. I’m watching Brute Corps tonight because this dude asked me if it was any good, and I didn’t know. So… yeah. Talk to me, because I listen. Or something like that.
The collection: C
The collection: B
The collection: A
Horror Challenge rundown: The first update
#1 - Frozen Scream (1975, Frank Roach): Imagine carving a statue. Think about all the bits left over once you’ve chiseled your work from solid, shapeless rock. Now imagine trying to build another statue from those cast-off shards using only a hot glue gun. That’s as succinctly as I can describe Frozen Scream, a film that feels crafted from random leftovers of a larger, less nonsensical...
Tell them who you are.
Now that’s a credit list. As long as you’re choosing pseudonyms, why not go nuts? (From Dale Berry’s Hot-Blooded Woman, 1965)
A bigger buffet.
For yet another year, I’ll be participating in Adam Lemke’s Halloween Horror Challenge. Once again, I’ll try and keep some capsule reviews going of what I’ve seen (and I’ll try not to give up halfway through the month again), probably doing weekly capsule updates to save time. Also, as usual, I’ve amassed far more films than I’ll actually be able to watch...
Box these tales, Donnie.
Sharp-minded blogger (and two-time White Elephant participant) Jaime Grijalba is currently hosting a weeklong Richard Kelly blogathon over at his blog Exodus 8:2. I’d planned to contribute a piece on The Box, but I wasn’t able to get a copy in time. Still, there’s time yet to participate if you’ve got something you want to write, so I figured I’d at least let others...
Looking for mushrooms.
While I tentatively get the Dusk to Dawn Project (v. 2) under way, I might as well throw this out there: There’s a number of films I’d very much like to cover for this that have proven a little elusive. If anyone has a line on where to find a copy of any of these, I’d be really appreciative. (Not that I expect anyone reading this to have a print of Santa’s Christmas Circus...
Tear up the map, draw a new one.
I’ve never been good at sticking to things. I don’t think I’ve ever finished something I set out to do, honestly - eventually, it gets to be a chore just keeping myself going. This has only gotten worse in the years since I’ve taken on a modicum of responsibility at my job, gotten married and so on. This is why I haven’t written much these last few years. But these days, I can’t stop myself from...
A true White Elephant, galumphing and ghastly.
I must write it all down. Exactly as it happened. While it is fresh in my memory. But my hand trembles. Why? Twice I’ve dropped the black keyboard. Now I sit at the computer screen, making the greatest effort to calm myself, not only for its own sake, but also for you, Internet, who never dreamed that anyone could witness totally a fantastic artistic abortion and survive…. The...
The Rosetta shot: "Hatchet II"
You know how teenaged gorehounds sometimes make excitable lists of all the bizarre and hyperbolic ways they’d like to see people dispatched in films? There’s a reason big-budget movies aren’t made from those lists. Adam Green’s Hatchet isn’t a great movie. It’s not even a good movie. But it does scratch, however nakedly, that old-school slasher itch; once...
Hey! Guess what starts tomorrow!
New things, new things.
Hey, in case you’re reading this: Yes, I know the blog died again. It tends to do that around this time of year. But no fear - in a couple of months, this space will be alive with Muriel Awards activity! Before that, though, there’s something else. Because I clearly don’t have enough to do, myself and Simon Abrams are looking to put together a podcast where we talk about…...
Horror Challenge entry #11: The Body Shop AKA...
How bad does a film have to be to make Herschell Gordon Lewis’s films look like sensitive, thoughtful masterpieces in comparison? This damn bad. Starts off promisingly dumb, with a mad scientist using tin foil on a body “to seal in all the radium” and a midget hunchback who needs help putting on his lab coat, but the fun doesn’t last. Patterson ladles on the grue in this...
Horror Challenge entry #10: The Haunted Strangler...
I gotta admit - this film sucker-punched me. I knew nothing about it going in other than Boris Karloff was in it and it was part of the same cycle that birthed Corridors of Blood, a Karloff/Day collaboration I liked very much. The Haunted Strangler shares a lot in common with that film, as Karloff here as there plays a crusading man trying to advance his field (surgery there, investigation here)...
Horror Challenge entry #9: Laid to Rest (2009,...
This really coulda been something if it didn’t keep getting in its own damn way. I guess, since it’s not 1983 anymore, it’s not enough for a movie to simply be an inventive and gruesome slasher flick - it needs to have a plot and characters and stuff, stuff more complicated than, “big dude in mask guts people.” What irks about Hall’s sophomore feature is that...
Horror Challenge entry #8: Marebito (2004, Takashi...
Is Shimizu a protege of Shinya Tsukamoto? If so, that would explain a lot about his filmmaking. Tsukamoto stars in this film that Shimizu knocked out between Grudge franchise entries, and his particular brand of vaguely meaningful incoherence is all over this tale of a freelance photographer who descends into an underground world and comes back with… something. I’d lay the blame on...
Horror Challenge entry #7: After.Life (2010,...
Allow me to boil this film down to its essence: CHRISTINA RICCI: I’m not dead. LIAM NEESON: Yes, you are. CHRISTINA RICCI: I don’t feel dead. LIAM NEESON: Trust me, you are. CHRISTINA RICCI: How do you know? LIAM NEESON: I’m a funeral director, I know corpses when I see them. CHRISTINA RICCI: So how are we having this conversation? LIAM NEESON: I can talk to the dead....
Horror Challenge entry #6: The Pack (1977, Robert...
(Written for the Killer Animal Blogathon.) When I announced this particular blogathon, I knew already which film I was going to view and write about. I’d love to say that I had a highfalutin’ reason for my conviction, but it was merely because I did a Robert Clouse flick for the last blogathon I participated in, and I liked the idea of keeping a bit of consistency. Too bad that...
Horror Challenge entry #5: Redneck Zombies (1987,...
I don’t know what’s more unexpected - that most of the best parts of a film titled Redneck Zombies have nothing to do with either rednecks or zombies, or that a film titled Redneck Zombies has “best parts” at all. I know that sounds like snark, but I mean that in all sincerity - Redneck Zombies isn’t really a good film, and who would really want a “good”...
Horror Challenge entry #4: The Video Dead (1987,...
Holy ballsack, is this film ever terrible. That’s all I have to say about it. No, really. It’s fucking awful, I don’t understand the minor cult that’s sprung up around it and I don’t want to talk about it. Let’s move the fuck on. Okay, fine. You want proof? Here. See how long you make it before wanting to punch something in rage:
Horror Challenge entry #3: Daybreakers (2010,...
A stylish and darkly funny social satire with horrific elements for much of its running time, but it’s clearly a film where the concept was a strong draw yet the Spierigs never quite figured how to fully utilize it. They set up the world, set up the conflict and set up the characters, yet on the evidence here they never quite nailed down how to resolve that conflict with the characters and...
Horror Challenge entry #2: Blood Bath (1966, Jack...
Nothing I come up with is going to be as on-the-money as the film’s own critique of itself: “An interesting technique, but it needs something.” Given time and space to shape it, Blood Bath could have really worked, colliding modern-art phoniness with a particularly dark strain of classicism. The “dead red nudes” painted by the chief antagonist (a painter who believes...
Horror Challenge entry #1: Frozen (2010, Adam...
Maybe this Green kid knows what he’s doing after all. Far removed from the jokey emptiness of Hatchet, Frozen is a taut, ruthless and dead serious bit of survival horror that wants us to care about what happens to its unfortunate characters. Myriad are the horror films where youngsters, privileged youngsters, do stupid stuff to deserve their fate and we in the audience agree. Rarer, and much...
Nine out of ten times, you lose that battle.
My review of The Other Guys posted today on In Review Online. Horror Challenge reviews to commence soon, promise.
The Horror Challenge : THE RETURN!
If you enjoyed my dalliance with Adam Lemke’s Horror Challenge last year… well, you’re in luck, ‘cause I’m doing it again this year. You know the drill - as many horror films as possible during the 31 days of October. Hopefully this year, I’ll keep up better with the writing, too. Also! I announced a blogathon over on Our Science last week. October 17th....
The Rosetta shot: "The Toolbox Murders" (1978)
So, yeah. A naked, bruised woman with a nail gun held point-blank at her head by a black-gloved figure. That’s… blunt. Look at that debased image. No, really. Look at it. Process it, roll it around in your mind. That is an actual shot from an actual movie that was actually released in general release. What does that say about the film that contains it? For one thing, it says...
The Rosetta shot: "Deported Women of the SS...
Yeah, more boobs. It always gets worse before it gets better, etc. Seriously, though, look at that shot. What do you see? Breasts, naked flesh, a large phallic nightstick. You know what you don’t see in that shot? Swastikas. Uniforms. Nazi paraphernalia. Things like that. You’d think that, if I am to capture a film that openly traffics in Nazi symbols, I’d have to include an...
The Rosetta shot: "The Shuttered Room"
You don’t see it in every film, but most films have ‘em - a single shot that sums up the entirety. These shots can communicate vast amounts of vital information about the work in question even to those who are unfamiliar with that work. In an effort to keep some kind of content flowing through here, I’m going to start periodically highlighting these types of shots. And I’ll...
It's on his face, expensive taste.
I have to admit, this is one of my favorite reaction shots in all of cinema. Look at him. He’s just so damn happy. I couldn’t look that happy if I ingested ten pounds of meth and pulled the corners of my lips up with clothes hangers. And why, might you ask, is this bespectacled goofball so happy? Uschi Digard is across the room from him, and she’s not wearing clothes. If you...
An Elephant in the East.
When it comes to the notorious White Elephant Exchange Blogathon, I have been quite mean these past two years. To be fair, I got blind-sided by Bio-Dome in the inaugural edition, so I had some fury that needed venting. But still - there’s really no excuse for the two nuclear stinkbombs I tossed into the pot. People shouldn’t even know of the existence of King Kung Fu and Maniac Nurses...
From the Shelf: The Bakery Girl of Monceau (1963,...
Acquired: December of ‘08 as a Christmas gift. Seen before?: Once - June 1st, 2008 from a disc checked out from the library. Eric Rohmer is the kind of filmmaker that makes me realize how inadequate I am at this reviewing game. Give me a piece of mangy, downmarket, unloved genre fiction and I’ll tear it open and describe, in minute detail, what’s going on within its innards....
From the Shelf: The Bank Dick (1940, Edward Cline)
Acquired: Late 2003 or early 2004, whenever it was that Criterion put their disc out of print. Seen before?: Once, in August of 2004. “During Fields’ career, industry standards required good to be rewarded and evildoing punished, but in “The Bank Dick” Fields plays an alcoholic misanthrope who lies, cheats and steals and is rewarded with wealth and fame.” - Roger...
My review of The Human Centipede (First Sequence) went up over the week at In Review Online. I’m not a fan.
From the Shelf: Bad Santa (2003, Terry Zwigoff)
Acquired: I… I don’t actually remember. Pretty sure I bought it rather than received it as a gift, but couldn’t tell you the time frame. Seen before?: Several times. This is a film I adore and have seen a number of times. Because I adore it, and because I’ve seen it a whole lotta buncha times, I don’t feel I have anything to say about it that I haven’t...