Sunday, August 18, 2013

Matt’s Week in Dork! (8/11/13-8/18/13)

    A slow start finished big this week, with the ever amazing William Shatner.

Zardoz:  Certainly, Zardoz is not to everyone’s taste.  Possibly because it’s completely bonkers, features some surreally strange acting, wildly improbably turns of event, and Sean Connery running around in red swim-trunks bringing the gift of death to spaced-out psychic flower children while a bit of the ol’ Ludwig Van plays.  Zardoz is a 70s dystopian nightmare unlike any other.  The closest thing I could compare it to are a lot of those ultra-trippy sci-fi shows coming out in the UK at the time, of which Doctor Who was probably the most mainstream and easy to follow.

The Showoff: A borish oaf treats everyone like crap and can’t tell the truth.  Things go from bad to worse, and then they really get pathetic as he blusters his way through life, destroying everyone around him.  The film isn’t all that great, and the main character is bloody awful.  But Louise Brooks is pretty swell as one of the dames.

The Plastic Age:  It’s jocks versus nerds in this pre-sound college comedy that shows little has changed in a hundred years.  Everyone’s got dames and sports on the mind, and they’re all freaking out.  It’s all kinds of goofy, but an interesting look at a long standing subgenre of comedy.  Many of the archetypes are already in place before the first words were spoken.  And of course, it ends with The Big Game.

A Band Called Death:  The trailer for this documentary took hold of my brain.  But, to a degree, it also told the story of the film, so seeing the whole thing is a touch disappointing.  However, the film sizzles with the band’s musical energy.  It is an interesting family story, and of course, a revelation of an unknown band that played Punk before there was Punk.

Escape from New York:  In the crime ridden future of the 1990s, New York City has become the pit of hell everyone thought it was in the late 70s.  Into this comes an anti-hero for the ages, a bitter, gruff, one-eyed bastard who doesn’t much like The Man.  Great action, great score, cool setting, and a great cast of character actors playing colorful roles.  This is one of the coolest films to come out of the 80s.

    We started off ShatAttack with a couple episodes of Thriller (The Grim Reaper & The Hungry Glass.  Both are quite good, with Shatner getting to play both perp and victim.  Up next was an episode of The Fugitive (Strange in the Mirror), featuring more manic madness from the Shat (keep an eye out for Astronaut Dodge from Planet of the Apes!).  And then Alfred Hitchcock Presents (The Glass Eye & Mother May I Go Out to Swim?).  Then on to The Outer Limits with Cold Hands, Warm Heart.

    Day two of ShatAttack started with Escape from Planet Earth and William Shatner’s World Famous Cappuccino Muffins.  Mmm.  And we followed that up, obviously, by The Bastard, part of The Kent Chronicles.  And then it was on to ShatAttack favorite The Devil’s Rain.

Escape from Planet Earth:  No shock that this movie wasn’t very good.  It has a few funny gags, but is mostly about as obvious as it gets.  The jokes are pretty obvious and the ‘social commentary’ is ham fisted.  And I’m not sure, but I think the moral of the story was that being single is bad, being stupid is good, and being a housewife is all a woman should strive for.

The Bastard:  Part one of The Kent Chronicles, this details the life of a French murder-machine as he kills everyone who crosses him, often with their own weapons.  After being raped by a milk-maid, our hero goes on to get set upon by various roughians and thugs, who through either luck, or some grand and hidden methodology, he thwarts, mostly to their death.  Then he heads to America, where I don’t know, I guess he gets into freedom and stuff.  It’s a very forgettable made for TV film that’s entirely too long and very repetitive.  Also, many of the actors, especially Andrew Stevens, seem totally wrong for their parts.  Stevens’s accent comes and goes more than the tide.

The Devil’s Rain:  Over the years since I first saw this film, it has become something of a favorite of mine, at least when the William Shatner mood strikes.  It’s not good.  The ending doesn’t make much sense.  But it’s beautifully shot and has some good performances.  And I like all the weird family history it hints at but never does a very good job of explaining.  And then there’s the pudding poring finale capped with a nonsense ending to give it that final punch.

    Of course, then you’ve just got to throw in a Police Woman episode (Smack).  And then…we put in the amazing, the wondrous, the incomparable Impulse.  After that, we played Star Trek Scene It?  And then it was time for the main event.  Kingdom of the Spiders, the most amazingly…well, a movie.  Following that with Star Trek IV just seemed like the thing to do.  And the follow-up to that was the Star Trek episode A Piece of the Action.

Impulse:  “People like you ought to be ground up and made into dog food.”  I have come to the realization that Impulse is one of the greatest bad movies ever made.  From start to finish, it feels like a rollercoaster of awkward exchanges, poor choices, technical failings, and lack of continuity.  The ‘day for night’ shooting is among the worst outside of an Ed Wood movie.  The slow car murder, the Shatnerrific reactions, that awful little girl…Glorious.  No joke.  This is an absolute MUST see for any fan of cheese.

Kingdom of the Spiders:  Sadly not as genius as it should be, this does feature some great sleazy acting from Shatner and a fun, if poorly executed ending.  But the movie is slow, and the creatures ultimately not very scary (seriously, just get on a bike and you’re home free).  If you’re creeped out by spiders, this should be freaky.  If you’re not, it’s not quite campy enough, but it’s watchable with friends.

Star Trek IV:  One of the only Star Trek films to capture anything of the original series, this is also one of the most fun films of the whole franchise.  The first thing you’ll notices is that there’s no villain.  There’s nobody that needs to be punched or exploded at the end.  Like The Motion Picture, the film is more about identifying and figuring out a problem than it is about action.  If only the makers of the new films, or potential makers of a new TV series, would look at this movie and learn something.  No, that something isn’t ‘we should do time travel.

     After a raffle, those few who remained sat down to Big Bad Mama, the Roger Corman classic.  And we finished the evening off with a couple more original series episodes.

Big Bad Mama: This sleazy gangster film feels like a cheap attempt at capturing a taste of the Bonnie & Clyde pie.  It’s low budget and wonky, and it has dubious moral quality.  But it’s also got all kinds of 70s nudity (even Angie Dickinson).  Fun, but not especially good or memorable.

    Any week that involves a ShatAttack is a good week.  And this ended up being a really good week.


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