It was a less than restful vacation for this dork. But during my insomniac nights, I did get some movies watched. And had a few fun side adventures.
Cowboys & Aliens: Though more serious than I’d originally expected when I heard the title, this fun little actioner should satisfy most viewers. The script is pretty good, the story not bad, the effects solid, and the actors all right for their parts. Ford and Craig make for a nice pair of leads, and Olivia Wild elevates what could easily have been a really awful character into one I enjoyed. Hearing complaints from several critics about the movie being difficult to follow, I once again have to wonder what kind of crack they pass out at critic conventions. The plot is quite easy to follow and spelled out on more than one occasion.
Trailers from Hell: Volume 1: A fun collection of trailers, with commentary by various directors. This is likely only going to be of great interest to serious movie fans, but for them, it’s quite enjoyable. Little bits of trivia, interesting observations, and just a good deal of fun.
Trailers from Hell: Volume 2: More trailers get the Trailers from Hell treatment, commentary by various interesting directors. There’s plenty of good, entertaining stuff.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Rebel Set: The name doesn’t make much sense. It’s basically just a heist film, with a cast of meh actors. Joel and the Bots give it the business. Quite funny. While not a stand out episode, it’s funny from beginning to end. Good stuff.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Killer Shrews: Plenty of laughs to go around in this episode, as Joel and the boys watch a group of idiots get attacked by dogs…I mean, shrews. The movie is totally stupid and they give it what for. Well worth it for fans.
The Magnificent Seven Ride!: Though Lee Van Cleef is cool, and there are some fun character actors, this movie just feels low-rent. There’s just not that much going on, and what there is has all been done better in other films. Not a bad watch, but not worth seeking out.
Stingray: More puppet action from Gerry Anderson and friends, Stingray is a good deal of fun. I especially love the final song. I don’t know, something about it is so delightfully cheesy in a 50s sort of way. Pretty good puppet work, good sets, and cool action pieces make for plenty enjoyment. And the music is pretty good. It’s not up to the best of The Thunderbirds or anywhere near as awesome as Captain Scarlet. But a good show.
Danger: Diabolik: Silly spies, wacky adventures, crazy music, and some awful dubbing (especially on people who didn’t need it). Danger: Silly. But, the movie is a great deal of 60s wacky fun. James Bond this isn’t. But if you’re in the mood for campy adventure and the smooth stylings of John Philip Law, give it a go. Unfortunately it runs long, being at least a half an hour longer than it should be.
The Avengers Season Seven: I think Linda Thorson got an unfair shake from many fans, replacing obvious favorite Diana Rigg. But Thorson is actually quite good as the sexy foil to Patrick Macnee’s dapper super-spy. The season has plenty of great episodes, with lots of cool guest appearances. Keep an open mind, and enjoy more fun, nutty stories. And don’t get too hung up on the cast change.
Raising Arizona: Oh, those wacky Coen Brothers. This early madness from the masters of awkward strangeness is something that needs to be seen. Actors I’m not normally a fan of are just so much fun here, especially Cage’s baffled, luckless robber. And the supporting cast is fantastic, even down to the old guy at the convenience store. And the Lone Biker of the Apocalypse? Wow. The extra treat with this film was seeing it at the AFI theater in Silver Spring, MD. I love the retro style. And I’m hoping to get back soon, as they’re showing some classic 80s movies this summer.
Rio Conchos: Not a great movie at all, this flick does have some pretty good performances and surprising brutality. Richard Boone is cool, though. And the film debut of Jim Brown is a harbinger of things to come.
Take a Hard Ride: Thankfully silent Jim Kelly, motor-mouthed Fred Williamson, and stoic Jim Brown team up on a cross the border adventure with a pile of loot. All the while, nasty character Lee Van Cleef is looking to get a little loot of his own, in blood. Lots of bad folk, a couple broken heroes, and something precious everybody wants a piece of; the makings of a solid western. Kelly, Williamson, and Brown teamed up in three films, this, Three the Hard Way, and One Down, Two to Go. While the latter was pretty bad, the first two were a lot of fun, and makes me wish they’d teamed up more often. Maybe in a science fiction film? Ah, well.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: Manhunt in Space: Oh, Rocky Jones. The mostly lifeless adventures of the vaguely annoying Rocky and his completely annoying friends are picked apart by Joel and the Bots in this good, but not great episode. While not a stand-out, it’s certainly a worthy episode for MST3K fans.
Doctor Who: The Masque of the Mandragora: Doctor Who goes costume drama in this Renaissance alien invasion story. An underground pagan cult, a sentient bit of star-stuff, some wacky travels within the refurbished Tardis start the show’s 14th season with a bang. It’s not really an amazing story, but there’s plenty to enjoy, including the filming location, which some people might recognize certain 60s show about a certain ex-spy with identity issues.
Stake Land: Director/writer Jim Mickle and Writer/star Nick Damici, who brought us the surprisingly good low budget creepfest Mulberry Street are back with this post vampire apocalypse road movie. Like the best zombie films, the monsters are really secondary. The movie is about the people and how they deal with the collapse of civilization. And like Mulberry Street, the film, in spite of a low budget, looks better than many mainstream Hollywood movies, in part owing to its use of practical effects and good cinematography. There’s really nothing especially new or exciting, but I really enjoy Nick Damici as the tough-guy lead, and the rest of the cast does an OK job. Worth checking out if you’re in the mood for some post-apocalyptic carnage.
Old Boy: Yikes. People have been telling me I need to see this movie for years. I’m not sure what that says about me, or the people I associate with. The movie is beautifully shot, with some really creative editing. And, there are several pretty cool, brutal action sequences. There’s also some danged disturbing stuff. Danged disturbing. I don’t know that I actually liked the movie, but I am glad I’ve finally seen it. I’m going to have to mull this one over for a while, and normally I’d say, watch it again. But I don’t know if I’m prepared to do that anytime soon.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: Cave Dwellers: Wow. The movie the boys watch in this awful episode makes Deathstalker look like Lawrence of Arabia. Total beefcake garbage. Just an awful, boring film. The boys are quite funny, and do make it watchable. But yikes. Movies like this were made for MST3K.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: Warriors of the Lost World: Another terrible movie is made less horrendous by Joel and the Bots. This time a mumbling complainer hooks up with that chick from the first Star Trek to run around some run down buildings and ride an annoying, talking bike. It’s really quite awful, and gets the business for good reason. And then there’s Megaweapon!!!
Mystery Science Theater 3000: Zombie Nightmare: Ah, Canadian horror. Just goofy. The voodoo priestess has one of the most ridiculous accents I’ve ever heard. But, thanks to Mike and the Bots, it’s a fun adventure in cinema cheese. Watch out for young Tia Carrere. And then there’s Adam “In this for the Money” West. Good stuff.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Atomic Brain: Schlocky evil science and moderately cute young ladies (with wonderfully forced accents), come together in the mansion of a horrible old lady. Kind of a take on The Island of Dr. Moreau. And while I’m sure the brains being transplanted in this are made of atoms, I don’t see anything I’d call an Atomic Brain.
Intolerable Cruelty: While it has brief moments of Coen Brothers magic, this movie is just not interesting enough to be particularly worthy of their usual work. It feels too restrained, too studio manipulated. Kind of a shocking blandness, really. I can totally see why it’s generally a forgotten Coen Brothers film.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: Werewolf: You know, when you’ve got the star power of Joe Estevez you’re in for a Hollywood gem. The movie is full of awful make-up effects, excruciatingly dull sequences that add nothing to the ‘story,’ and Adrianna Miles’ special butchery of English that sounds like she might have been Metalocalypse guitarist Skwisgaar Skwigelf’s voice couch. Mike and the Bots do their thing, and make the horror more fun. And, as this is a late episode, featuring the annoyance Pearl, I was glad to see she didn’t feature much.
Forbidden Planet: One of those watershed films that boosted science fiction film, and special effects, Forbidden Planet works as a fun space adventure, a cool adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and a template for the original Star Trek. The production design is absolutely fantastic, the script quite clever, and the cast a lot of fun to watch. Just a grand film. Co-Dork Brad and I, along with his wife and our friend Emily got a chance to check this out at one of E-Street Cinema’s midnight screenings. Nice seeing it on the big screen.
I also watched a few episodes of Night Gallery, which is a fun, if uneven show. None of this batch stood out as especially good. But the story The House was surreally fun.
I didn’t get a lot accomplished as far as reading goes. I started up the next to last volume of Conan. And I did finish volume 8, but haven’t written a review to it yet. But, I also managed to get to a cool used book store, Hole in the Wall Books. It’s the first used book store I’ve found since moving to Northern Virginia that’s really worth bothering with. Reminds me how much I miss Pro Libris back in my home town of Bangor, ME.
And, in a little bit of royal Dork news, it seems King Abdullah of Jordan is a Trekkie, (having actually been an extra in an episode of Voyager). And he’s trying to build a Trek themed park of some kind. Crazy.
On the music front, I haven’t really been listening to much. I did get wrapped up in some more Garfunkel and Oates, though. If you haven't listened to them before, you should know they're not normally safe for work.