Honor And Glory

Honor-and-Glory

Well there you have it. I’ve finally done it; I’ve watched the greatest movie ever made. Honor And Glory holds that title and it is a film of many contradictions – an 80s action movie made in the 90s; a Cynthia Rothrock vehicle which she is barely in; a martial arts film in which it looks like the fights were choreographed by a Tory MP; a film which made me laugh more than any comedy of the last ten years; a film made with such ineptitude that those who made The Room watched it and shook their heads in shame. Stop whatever you’re doing now and find it. Go, watch it now. I’ll wait.

See? What did I tell you? WTF was that? Where do we even begin? I watched Cynthia Rothrock movies when I was a kid, though I really only remember the China O’Brien series. She was hot, cool, and could kick ass – pretty much the only things I was interested back then. She made a bunch of films with similar titles to what JCVD was making in those days, if not outright sequels – Rapid Fire, Tiger Claws, No Retreat No Surrender 2. It must have been difficult trying to make her way in those days, to make a legitimate case as a leading lady, an action heroine. If there hasn’t been a documentary made about her, then someone needs to get on that. Honor And Glory opens with a very unusual scene – one which seems less strange as the movie moves from weird to bizarre to buck nuts with each passing minute. Starting out in Hong Kong, where Rothrock is on some sort of FBI mission (is that even allowed), she is attacked by some guy while getting a drink. Hey, isn’t that Liu Kang? Yes, yes it is, but it’s okay he’s a good guy in this film too, he was just keeping Rothrock on her toes. Turns out he’s a detective called Dragon Lee, because Bruce Nunchucks was already taken. After watching this I just had to start taking notes about all the wonderful, ludicrous crap which was happening. Those notes make up much of what follows below, but it got to the point where I was pausing the movie every thirty seconds to write something down so I eventually gave up. If it hasn’t been done already, someone needs to do a scene by scene essay on this monstrosity.

What was the budget of this thing – twenty bucks? It looks like it has been shot with the sort of home camcorder my parents got so they could record me refusing to take part in any of the party games at my 8th Birthday. The film moves to America for one of the most hilariously bad acted scenes I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing – and it was a pleasure. There’s a group of, I think, military top brass meeting to discuss a major security incident which could have world-destroying consequences, yet they appear to be conducting this game-changer in a reconstituted broom closet. Believe me, I wouldn’t trust any of these guys with closing my fridge properly, never mind the safety of the free world. Each actor seems to have the same voice, the same delivery. I wouldn’t be surprised if they realised they needed some plot establishing scene and literally grabbed the first 6 guys they found walking by, stuck them in a room, and got them to read the lines.

We then get an even funnier scene where some random disgruntled onlooker attacks a News Reporter by throwing a can of Dr Pepper at her. Why couldn’t she be like everyone else and just yell ‘fuck her right in the pussy’ like everyone else? The ill-flavoured soda tin flies through the air, going nowhere near Joyce The Reporter, yet Joyce somehow kicks the can without looking behind her and it flies back and hits the perp in the face. I rewound five times and laughed every time. Then they have a full blown ninja-off in the parking lot, complete with hilarious sound effects – each blow accompanied by a tornado woosh of air and landing with a boom John Bonham would have been proud off. Why the hell aren’t her friends helping her out? Once the fight is over they nonchalantly appear and say something like ‘lets go Joyce’ as if these brawls are a daily occurrence. Oh, Joyce and Rothrock are sisters – we know this because they also have a fight in a parking lot, juggling a set of car keys enthusiastically between each others’ ankles.

Next we meet the big bad, whose first appearance I annotated with ‘who’s this coked-up loon-bag’? It’s another boardroom scene, but somehow worse (better) than the previous one. Here is the next section of notes I jotted down – they speak for themselves: WTF is wit the jaunty kids sitcom soundtrack. The ‘World’s Greatest Bodyguard’ looks like a rejected MC Hammer dancer – why is he cupping his cock, scared it’s gone AWOL again? The bad guy praises him, then admonishes him in the quickest cock tease to cock block switch I’ve ever seen. We’re 13 minutes in and I’ve already laughed more than I did during the entire Hangover Trilogy. So Rothrock is looking into illegal arms dealing, Joyce is a reporter investigating the corrupt loonbag Jason Slade, and their dad in somehow involved too? Fuck knows.

As terrific as all this is, we haven’t yet met Mickey – taking over from Burgess Meredith as ‘best character ever called Mickey’. Why isn’t Mickey in every movie ever? I no longer care about whatever story this film is failing to tell, I just want The Adventures Of Mickey, as he stumbles from one well-meaning mishap to the next, getting the shit beaten out of him by whoever he meets. He even drives a KITT! Why there wasn’t a spin-off series about him is the greatest crime of the 20th Century. This was his only film-role? For shame. After his introduction, surely the film will go downhill. No, we get some scenes of the top brass being killed along with bizarre dialogue like ‘consider this your resignation’. Did that guy even work for you? Why even say that, just pull the trigger. Why refer to these guys as The Three Stooges – there’s only two of them! We are treated to the most caring, relaxed neck-break in cinema history – the dude’s just sort of nuzzled and has his throat caressed for a few seconds, then he’s dead. He blinks after he dies too.

We get some more vital time with Mickey as he sits eating lunch, talking to himself, but getting the words wrong. He grabs a camcorder, hops into KITT and goes to do his own bit of sleuthing for reasons unannounced. I hope he doesn’t get caught because he sure as shit won’t be able to talk his way out of it. Then again, he’s an amateur and seems to be filming a gate closing. More scenes and notes: There’s a sped up kata scene, the most awkward doorstep scene I’ve ever been party to (and I’ve kissed girls on their doorsteps in front of their dads). Cynthia beats up Mickey (!) only to be reminded that she actually knows him (!) and says ‘oh, sorry Mickey, lets go inside for a party’, to which he replies ‘that’s ok’ in super chipper mode. Have any of these writers or actors ever actually met a human? Look at Slade, standing there fondling his balls and drinking a Heineken. Ooh, an original Q-Bert arcade machine, that’s probably worth a few bob. We get to the final showdown, and it’s Slade and some Japanese guy whose entirely personality is encapsulated by the fact that he holds a coin, but they’re fucked because they’re up against Cynthia Rothrock, Liu Kang, fake Eddie Murphy, and a woman in a blue trenchcoat. There’s fisticuffs. It ends. The film features neither Honor nor Glory.

Just in case you were thinking all of this magic was the product of an untrained director being let loose on the streets with a bunch of cameras and equipment he’d never seen before, a quick look at Imdb provides some startling results. I didn’t recognise the director’s name – Godfrey Hall is a name more reminiscent of a Key Grip from the 60s who’d worked his way up on British crime capers. But it’s a fake – it’s really Godfrey Ho, a name I did recognise as someone who made a tonne of action movies in the 80s, especially dubious knock-offs. Just to give you an idea of his pedigree – in 1986 he made the classic Ninja Terminator and followed that up with 16 more movies. In 1986 alone. Yes, 17 films in one year, 14 of which have the word Ninja in the title. In other words, 1986 was a slow year for Ho so in 1987 he completed 24 features, and not to be outdone,  in 88 he was particularly inspired and made 39 films. Fellow movie bloggers out there – why not run a Godfrey Ho blogathon? I fucking dare you.

Well, that about does it. I’m fairly positive that is the most that anyone has ever written about Honor And Glory – this review is probably longer than the script. Though I imagine this is the sort of film which will have a dedicated fanbase who write and vlog about it all the time.

 

Nightman’s Introduction To Foreign Cinema Part – A – B

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Welcome back. In Part 1, I begged and pleaded with fists clenched and mouth all-a-foam for you to give peace a chance. Or foreign movies… yeah, that was it – peace is a fool’s hope. Now, I’m going to go through some countries, genres, people, and list some of the films that I think both best represent said countries, genres, and people while also acting as prime examples of gateway films. These are the films which should suck in even the most stubborn quality-denier. There’s an unfortunate caveat – I’m no expert; I’m just some guy. My go to genres are action, horror, sci-fi, comedy and my go to countries are equally limited. I mean, I’ll watch anything but there will always be more I haven’t seen than have. What I’m saying is – I’m not covering African, Indian, Middle Eastern cinema and probably a bunch of others, as my experience and knowledge of these are extremely limited. I’ve seen movies from all of these areas, but nowhere near enough to offer any sort of decent opinion. Lets do this alphabetically:

But before that – I was recently reading a post by someone else recently which perfectly encapsulated my reasoning behind these posts. An otherwise knowledgeable film viewer made (not for the first time) some interesting (stupid) points about foreign film. He seems to take issue with a group of people and the opinions he perceives (or has genuinely heard) them state, and by extension that has biased himself against the films. I admit to being guilty of this sort of thing to – it’s human nature. He bemoans these viewers who apparently dismiss American remakes of foreign movies – even ones he classes as ‘shot for shot’ remakes and goes on to state that the only reason they prefer the original is because of, here he gets vague but I get what he’s aiming for, is because they’re foreign/exotic. Is this simple snobbery? An extension of being a hipster, or some Colonial holdover? I’ll agree that there are people out there who certainly fit this criteria, but I’d go further and say that it’s an extremely small group and that it happens across all forms of media, art, fashion – almost anything. The problem is the guy’s ego and his own reverse confirmation bias has soured him then from ever allowing himself to enjoy the original or go in search of foreign movies.

The fact is, and it is a fact, that Countries other than the USA make great movies every year. Some are remade. Some are not. Some of the remakes are good. Some are not. Personally, I prefer the original to the remake but that’s not because of the reasons he thinks. He unironically later destroys his own point with his own logic by also bemoaning all of the Disney live action remakes as pointless, lifeless, cash-grabs… hold… hold one a second. So, it’s not good for Disney to remake their own classics and the originals are so much better, but when the US remakes a movie from France, Japan, Spain, wherever, it’s much better to watch the remake? Why? What’s the difference? The difference is your own bias. You need to recognise that bias, and get the fuck over it. You’re not a movie fan if you willfully deprive yourself of a film because it’s foreign. Remakes can be exceptional, but in the majority of cases remakes are inferior to the original simply because they are NOT the original. An original is typically born out of creativity, passion, an idea which the creator wants and needs to share. A Remake is typically born out of the desire for quick cash – borrowing an idea already proven to be successful and slapping together a film with less inherent risk attached.

He does make the point that a crap original will likely result in a crap remake – not always the case, and seems completely jaded by the people who he states will praise the original over the remake ‘just because it’s foreign.’ Hey, there are an awful lot of crap foreign movies every year – no doubt. Same with Hollywood. That doesn’t stop you watching Hollywood’s finest, so don’t let it stop you from watching the finest from around the world. Oh yeah, remember the shot for shot remake of Psycho? Crap, right? Because even if it’s shot for shot, you have a different crew, cast, and reason for making the film, never mind the fact that years may have passed or the cultural nuances have been lost. Don’t be a dick, especially if everyone else is. Be better. Then again, he does seem confused and never avoids the opportunity to tell us how much he dislikes horror movies while frequently selecting, guess what, a horror movie as his favourite movie of a given year. But enough of that – lets check out some Foreign Movies.

Australia

Well, that’s handy. Australia is the closest English speaking cousin of UK and US. The culture isn’t so different as to cause any great confusion, many Australian films have had massive worldwide success, and plenty of its filmmakers and stars have also appeared in Hollywood. Australia has a very interesting and varied cinematic history – beginning in earnest around the time of the Second World War where many stars were beginning to perform or beginning to, well, live. It wasn’t until the New Wave in the 1970s that Australian culture began to truly stamp itself on its own productions and that its success grew. For more information on this, I would highly recommend the entertaining documentary Not Quite Hollywood which covers this period and ‘Ozploitation’.

What I think of when I think of Australian movies is Action. Horror too, but mainly Action, often with an offbeat side. Comedy seems to permeate many of the Action, Horror, and Drama films I have seen. In other words, it’s the perfect place to start your foreign movie journey, especially if you love car crash carnage, bullets, and gore. I’m making it sound like Australia is limited, and that is by no means the case – it’s simply the best place to start. In recent years quite a few more dramatic films have come out which have been superb.

Notable Gateway FilmsLion (Oscar nominated 2016), Mad Max series (some of best action ever seen on screen), Crocodile Dundee series (call that a knoife?), Babe (that’ll do, pig), Moulin Rouge! (Oscar Winner 2001), Animal Kingdom (Australian Crime Drama 2010), Tomorrow When The War Began (cool teen action movie), Mad Dog Morgan (Dennis Hopper, fucking shit up) Wolf Creek series (torture porn, Oz style), Gallipoli  (1981 war epic), Picnic At Hanging Rock (unnerving 1975 drama), The Proposition (2005 Austrlian Western), The Babadook (celebrated 2014 horror movie), The Loved Ones (quirky 2009 horror), Chopper (amusing and violent 2000 biopic), Wake In Fright (Australia’s Straw Dogs), Rogue (the best of Australia’s many Jaws imitators), Lake Mungo (disturbing 2008 psychological horror).

Notable Directors: Baz Luhrmann (Australia), James Wan (Saw), George Miller (Mad Max, Happy Feet), Russell Mulcahy (Highlander), Philip Noyce (Rabbit Proof Fence), Alex Proyas (The Crow), Peter Weir (The Truman Show). 

Notable Stars: Errol Flynn, Mel Gibson, Naomi Watts, Eric Bana, Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Hugo Weaving, Heath Ledger, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Imbruglia, George Lazenby, Russell Crowe, The Hemsworths, Sam Worthington, Wayne Pygram, Jesse Spencer, Rose Byrne, Isla Fisher, Melissa George, Virginia Hey, Claudia Black, Margot Robie.

Austria

I’ll admit I know very little of Austria’s cinematic history – obviously it had a tumultuous period around WWII and only recently has experience new found success. I’m really including it here due to a number of stars who identify as Austrian.

Notable Gateway Films: Malina (Isabelle Hupert being awesome), Benny’s Video (disturbing drama about a disturbed boy), Funny Games (disturbing movie about disturbing young men), The Edukators (drama about college age activists teaching the super rich some sort of lesson), The Headsman (Jamie Lannister romping with a sword), Taxidermia (completely buck nuts joint venture with Hungary with pig sex and firey ejaculations… yeah, probably not a good gateway choice), The Counterfeiters (Oscar winning drama about a Nazi plan to destroy the British economy),

Notable Directors: Michael Curtiz (Casablanca), GW Pabst (Komodianten), Otto Preminger (Anatomy Of Murder), Michael Haneke (The White Ribbon), Jessica Hausner (Lovely Rita). 

Notable Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Erich von Stroheim, Lotte Lenya, Maria Schell, Romy Schneider, Paul Henreid, Curd Jurgens, Peter Lorre, Maximillian Schell, Otto Schenk, Oskar Werner, Christoph Waltz.

Argentina

Argentina is, I think, the only South American country to win Oscars, and yet it’s a region I don’t follow too much outside of the most obvious picks. I understand there was a Golden Age around the thirties to fifties, and the industry has again picked up since the mid eighties.

Notable Gateway FilmsCocaine Wars (one of Roger Corman’s 80s action movies for Argentina), Tango (if you like the dance, watch the movie), The Motorcycle Diaries (Gael Garcia Bernal as Che), The Secret In Their Eyes (the impact of rape and murder over time).

Notable Directors: Juan Jose Campanella (The Secret In Their Eyes, The Man Of Your Dreams), Eduardo Mignogna (La Fuga, The Lighthouse), Damian Szifron (Wild Tales, Pretenders), Lucia Puenzo (XXY).

Notable Stars: Castulo Guerra (T2, The Usual Suspects), Lalo Schifrin (composer of Mission Impossible Theme, Enter The Dragon, Rush Hour Series), Barry Norton (Casablanca, To Catch A Thief), Alejandro Rey (The Ninth Configuration, Breakout), Olivia Hussey (Romeo And Juliet, Black Christmas), Mia Maestro (Twilight Series, Frida), 

Brazil

Similar to Argentina, this is not an area I know a lot about, but I am at least a little more familiar, especially since the turn of the millennium.

Notable Gateway FilmsPixote (grim 1980 tale of corruption and its impact on youth), Heart & Guts (bawdy comedy set in girls school), Kiss Of The Spider Woman (multi Oscar nominated crime drama), A Dog’s Will (bizarre comedy mixing farce and religion), City Of God (gangs of youths struggle for survival in a busy favela), Only God Knows (Alice Braga and Diego Luna get it on), Elite Squad (gangs and cops clash with tonnes of action), Coffin Joe Trilogy (Brazilian Horror with an ‘endearing’ lead bad guy), Lower City (Alice Braga gets it on with two friends),

Notable Directors: Walter Salles, Suzana Amaral, Fernando Meirelles, Hector Babenco, Sergio Machado, Jose Mojica Marins, Jose Padilha, Andrucha Waddington,

Notable Stars: Alice Braga

Belgium

My final entry in this mammoth post is Belgium – France’s little brother. Because of Belgium’s geographical and cultural position it shares a lot of its cinema with that of France, but also of Germany and The Netherlands. Due to that and my own limited knowledge there are only a handful of obvious films I can recommend – Man Bites Dog is a brutal classic satire on violence, but isn’t for the faint of heart or anyone who doesn’t like hand-held stuff, Mr Nobody is an underrated oddball Sci-Fi starring Jared Leto and Sarah Polley, and Left Bank is a modern take on Repulsion. Horror fans might like to give Amer a shot.

Notable Directors and Stars: Chantal Akerman (Jean Dielman, News From Home), Dardenne Brothers (L’Enfant, Two Days One Night), Felix Van Groeningen (The Broken Circle Breakdown), Jaco Van Dormael (Mr Nobody, The Brand New Testament), Matthias Schoenaerts (Black Book, The Danish Girl), Jean Claude Van Damme (Timecop, Universal Soldier), Lubna Azabal (Incendies, Body Of Lies), Ronald Guttman (Hunt For Red October, Welcome To The Punch).

Let us know in the comments which films from any of the nations above you have seen, loved, hated, or if you’re going to take the plunge!

 

Best Art Direction – 1976

Official Nominations: All The President’s Men. The Incredible Sarah. The Last Tycoon. Logan’s Run. The Shootist.

A clear front-runner and winner this year with All The President’s Men being set in the familiar locations of a bustling workplace and real life DC hotspots. The newsroom was entirely recreated for the film, but you wouldn’t know it given how realistic it all feels, while everything from the lighting to the costumes feel sweaty and tangible and at once closing in and expanding with possibility. Logan’s Run gets the Sci-Fi nod and is one of the more unique (for the time) visions of a possible future. Cheesy now, I’ve always had a fondness for the sets and the overall look. The Last Tycoon is probably famed now more for its authentic setting than the plot or performances while I’m not sure anyone remembers (or needs to remember) The Incredible Sarah. Finally, The Shootist is a now underrated Don Siegel Western featuring John Wayne – his last role – his character bemoaning the end of ‘The Old West’ and the film representing loss in both its look and plot.

My Winner: All The President’s Men

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My Nominations: All The President’s Men. The Last Tycoon. Logan’s Run. 1900. Bugsy Malone. Carrie. Marathon Man.

I add everything from musicals to horror movies to the three copied from the Official Nominations. 1900 is an epic in every sense, and if there is one thing most epics have in common it is a painstaking attention to detail, with Bertolucci and co showcasing the skills learned in previous stylized films such as The Conformist. Bugsy Malone, as much as I hate it, has a very specific look and feel which suits the malarkey of the story and its gimmick perfectly. Carrie is an exercise in stylized editing and post-menstrual pressure with both home and school rarely shown to be anything more than different levels of hell, while Marathon Man uses shadow and light to torment the viewer like few other films.

My Winner: All The President’s Men

Let us know your winner in the comments!

John Carpenter’s Batman – An Unpublished Screenplay

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JOHN CARPENTER’S BATMAN

Cast:

Bruce Wayne/The Batman: Kurt Russell

The Joker: Also Kurt Russell

Alfred/Robin: Donald Pleasance

Vicki Vale: Jamie Lee Curtis

Tina Twotitz – A Giggling Wench: Adrienne Barbeau

Commissioner Gordon: Carey Grant

OPEN ON:

A throbbing synth soundtrack fades in, lurching, setting a tone of foreboding. There is a sweeping shot of a city at night: Gotham City. The following words light up the night sky in a neon blue: John Carpenter’s Batman

EXT: GOTHAM CITY. A BUSY STREET – NIGHT

DADDY WAYNE

What a riveting performance of Snow White that was. That Widow Twanky was a real character. Ha ha ha! I love Christmas, I do.

MUMMY WAYNE

Look out – he’s behind you!

DADDY WAYNE

Oh no he isn’t! Yes, dear, get into the festive spirit!

MUMMY WAYNE

No, I really mean it, look out!

JACK NAPIER

Gimme all yer money, punk, or I’ll fill ya full of lead.

MUMMY WAYNE

You’d better do as he says, he has an ill-favoured look about him.

DADDY WAYNE

Uh… yes… here you go, sir. We are but poor folk, and have few wares.

NAPIER

Yes, hand it over, yes, that’s it. Now, time for a joke – you like jokes don’t you?

MUMMY WAYNE

Not really.

DADDY WAYNE

Why yes, I am partial to the odd jest.

NAPIER

Good, good. I like an appreciative audience. What did the couple say to the gunman?

THE WAYNES (together)

We don’t know, what did the couple say to the gunman?

NAPIER shoots them both in the face twelve times.

NAPIER

Nothing! Because they were dead! Heh, I should be a joke-guy.

NAPIER runs away before the sound of the GUNSHOTS alerts the AUTHORITIES, but in his escape, he is crushed by a MARAUDING ELEPHANT.

NAPIER

My…… face… my beautiful face…..

INT. WAYNE MANOR – DAY

ALFRED

Don’t fret, sonny. Your parents luvved ya, and ol’ Alfred is here to look after ya. You’re the richest boy in the world. Perhaps we could talk about a pay rise for ol’ Alfr-

BRUCE

You are correct, my loyal slave. Now, my first order – I command you to build a huge indoor playpark in the subterranean caves beneath my home, complete with slides, ballpits, but no clowns. I hate clowns!

ALFRED

Yes sir, but there are lots of bats down there. Rats too.

BRUCE

Bats, you say?

INT. BUCKINGHAM PALACE. 10 YEARS LATER – DAY

ARCHBISHOP

I now pronounce thee, King and Queen.

RABBLE

All hail the King!

KING FLUBBER

Thank you all for coming on this gracious day. And special thanks to our new friend, Bruce Wayne – Billionaire playboy, and mysterious bachelor!

BRUCE WAYNE

No worries. I must say, this palace is rather small for my tastes, but it’s the perfect venue for such a lovely wedding.

QUEEN SOMETHINGOROTHER

Now, the Royal photos!

VICKI VALE

Say Cheese!

BRUCE WAYNE

Hey, baby.

VICKI VALE

You wish.

QUEEN SOMETHINGOROTHER

Let us retire to the Ballroom!

INT. BUCKINGHAM PALACE BALLROOM -DAY

QUEEN SOMETHINGOROTHER

Now, the Royal entertainment!

A group of delightful clowns enter and begin capering about, throwing pies, and generally creating a nuisance. One Clown approaches the throne.

THE JOKER

Your Royal Highnesses, may I ask you a not so serious question? Have you ever danced with the devil on a Tuesday Morn?

ROYAL SCUM

Eh…. no. What does that even mean?

THE JOKER

It means, you’re all about to DIE!

The clowns are really baddies! They pull out all manner of comedy-related weapons – giant over-sized hammers, knives made out of guns, guns made out of knives, guns which shoot knives, and guns made out of knives which shoot knives made out of wives.

TINA TWOTITZ

OOOOOH…. KAAAYYYY, guys and gals, I want you all to hand over your loot, and I want all the celebrity football players to pull down their pants!

THE JOKER

WTF, that’s not part of the plan?

TINA TWOTIZ

Aww, come on boss, lemme have some fun.

VICKI VALE

Does that lady have…. two tits?

BRUCE WAYNE

Uh, excuse me for a moment, I have to go behind this curtain.

WAYNE goes behind a curtain, and after some fumbling, Batman emerges!

BATMAN

Hands up, baddies, The Batman is here!

EVERYONE

Hurrah!

THE JOKER

Curses! Why must this caped crusader always interrupt my doings?

BATMAN starts beating everyone up, including the KING and QUEEN, but THE JOKER, TINA, and some assorted FIENDS escape by painting a black tunnel on the wall, through which only they can traverse.

BATMAN

I have a feeling that’s the last we’ll be seeing of those scoundrels.

ROBIN

I am here! Baddies beware! Ouch, my pelvis!

BATMAN

Alfred, please take off that ridiculous outfit.

INT. THE OFFICES OF THE DAILY SHITE – DAY.

VICKI VALE

I’m telling you, sir. If you’ll just look at my shots of The Joker, you can tell that he’s really Jack Napier – all he’s done is smear lipstick on his chin and slick his hair back.

DONALD TRUMP

Fake news! I am the chief editor of this newspaper and I’m telling you that The Joker is NOT my good friend and lover Jack Napier, ugh, I mean, The Joker is NOT really that criminal who mysteriously vanished and is in no way being financed by a rich tycoon to further his own tyrannical plans. Now, it is my yum yums time, fetch my baboon!

JIMMY OLSEN enters, leading a baboon on a leash. Its mammary glands are engorged and dripping.

TRUMP

Ahhh, yum yums!

TRUMP begins to suckle from one teat, while fondling the other.

INT(EXT?) THE BATCAVE – NIGHT

ALFRED

Sir, I wish you wouldn’t sit down here brooding so much. It’s unhealthy. At least put some boxer shorts on.

BRUCE WAYNE

I can’t, Alfred. I just can’t.

ALFRED

Fine. What is bothering you this time?

BRUCE WAYNE

I just can’t help shake the feeling that THE JOKER is going to strike again. And something that Vicki women said to me – that THE JOKER killed my parents – makes me think he was somehow connected to the unsolved murder of my parents. DAMN IT! I just can’t work it out!

ALFRED

Perhaps a drive in the BATMOBILE will help clear your mind, sir?

INT. THE BATMOBILE – NIGHT

BATMAN

Cruising along in my Batmobile, looking for fun, or some baddies to kill.

(For the purposes of humourous rhyming, he pronounces ‘kill’ as ‘keel’). Screams and laughter are heard OS.

BATMAN

Hmm, sounds like there is trouble afoot. Leave that woman alone and come quietly, or there will be… trouble.

BADDIES

No way man, no way man! The Joker runs this city, and he says we can do whatever we want!

BATMAN

Take me to him. Now.

BADDIES

No way, man!

BATMAN punches one baddy so hard that his head explodes.

OTHER BADDIE

Dude, gross!

BATMAN

Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.

BADDIE

Okay, man, okay. He lives at 621 Cowan Avenue.

BATMAN

BATMOBILE – set co-ordinates for 621 Cowan Avenue.

BATMOBILE

Yes, Michael.

INT. THE JOKER’S HIDEOUT – AN ABANDONED FUNHOUSE – NIGHT

THE JOKER

He is coming. I can…. sense it.

BOB

I am here sir, I have news.

THE JOKER

My power is growing. I knew you were coming. What is your news? Wait, let me guess….. he is coming. I can… sense it.

BOB

How did you do that? The Batman has just arrived in his dreaded Batcar. What should we do?

THE JOKER

Sniff this.

BOB sniffs a flower on The Joker’s shirt, but it squirts acid all over his face. BOB’S face melts in a grisly eight minute scene until only a skull is left.

THE JOKER

Now, tell the others to get ready!

TINA TWOTITZ

I think he’s dead.

BATMAN

And now you are dead too! Both of you!

THE JOKER

Curses!

BATMAN and THE JOKER have a ridiculous fight all over The Funhouse, through rooms with funny mirrors, and revolving doors and such. For some reason, VICKI VALE is also there.

TINA TWOTITZ

Ah ha! You’re that reporter! I loved your story about the economic struggles faced by students in the North of England due to the recent recession.

VICKI VALE

Not as much as you’ll like this!

VICKI kicks her down some stairs and TWOTITZ lands on her breasts so hard that she bounces out of a window and onto a spiked fence.

TINA TWOTITZ

Gee, that was some sharp wit.

SHE DIES.

EXT. THE FUNHOUSE ROOF – NIGHT

THE JOKER

Heh heee heee! Look, TRUMP has contacted the National Guard and his army of impotent incels to eliminate us both for fear that one or both of us will reveal his involvement in bank-rolling my murderous antics. Either we work together to get out of this, or we both perish.

BATMAN

Fine. You take the left, I’ll cover the right, but mark my words, when this is over, you and me will – GET – IT – ON!

THE JOKER

Don’t threaten me with a good time!

A large firefight ensues, with Hero and Villain teaming up to defeat a greater evil. Eventually, they fight off the hordes of GUN NUTS.

JOKER

Phew, that was close.

BATMAN

Indeed. And now I must place you under arrest, or something.

JOKER

Nah, not today.

The Joker leaps off the building, using the combined power of his massive clown trousers and the steam rising from the corpses of all the dead GUN NUTS to float away through the city.

BATMAN

We will meet again, my arch nemesis. We will meet again.

INT: THE OFFICE OF THE DAILY SHITE – DAY

TRUMP

Mmmm, yum yums. So delicious. So nice.

COMMISSIONER GORDON

Put down that Baboon, you’re under arrest for the murder of many people, and also for whatever it is you are doing to that poor forsaken beast.

TRUMP

Wha? Fake news, fake news!

COMMISSIONER GORDON

You’re not going to lie your way out of it this time. You have that thing’s breast in your mouth, and you are covered in blood, and you’re wearing a T-shirt which reads ‘I DID IT’, and you’re watching a video of yourself throwing grenades into a Mexican village. How much more proof do we need?

TRUMP

Fake news! Benghazi! Killery! Ugh…. fake news!

EXT: THE TOP OF THE POLICE HEADQUARTERS – NIGHT

COMMISSIONER GORDON

Thanks to you, we were able to lock away Trump for eight thousand years.

BATMAN

All in a day’s work.

VICKI VALE

And now I have a promotion and a snazzy new office, and free access to yum yums whenever I desire.

BATMAN

And yet, the city is not safe. Somewhere out there, a painted loon is plotting his next evil move. Oh, wait, there he is!

BATMAN spots THE JOKER walking on the ground below, and drops a brick on his head, killing him instantly.

BATMAN

I guess you could say ‘The Joke’s on him’.

GORDON

I don’t get it.

THE END

Best Foreign Film – 1976

Official Nominations: Black And White In Colour. Cousin Cousine. Jacob The Liar. Nights And Days. Seven Beauties.

In honour of me being in Menorca at the time of posting, drunk on cocktails and looking at bikinis through the perverted safety of my tinted sunglasses, here is my Foreign Film post for 1976. I wrote the actual post below, probably around this time last year, but thought I’d add this troubling introduction as a ‘ha ha, I’m getting nice weather for a change’ for anyone reading who isn’t getting nice weather. Of course most of my readers are in the US, so your weather is probably great now too, so the joke’s probably on me. Still… Pina Coladas. Maybe I’ll post some pics.

After last year’s mostly morose and dark selection, this year features some lighter films and comedies. Having said that, Jacob The Liar features a group of Polish Jews in a ghetto in World War II. One of them, Jacob, is always getting into trouble but one day overhears on radio that The Russians will arrive shortly and overthrow the Nazis. This leads to hope and his friends and neighbours ask him for updates which he fabricates entirely. Focusing on World War I is Nights And Days – a film which literally takes that long to watch. It’s a sprawling epic following various generations of the same family, and well worth a watch if you can find and stomach the running time. Seven Beauties is notable for earning Lina Wertmuller the first ever Best Director nomination for a woman. It’s also a superb film, but very dark, following one Italian guy’s journey over a few years, from a bit of a lad, to protector and murderer, to inmate at an asylum, to soldier, to a concentration camp and back home. It has some great performances too, but isn’t the most pleasant watch.

Our official winner – Black And White In Colour – is again a war based movie (WWI this time) but takes a lighter approach. Well, a satirical approach at least. It earned the Ivory Coast their only win but I think there are stronger films in the category. Cousin, Cousine finally is a romantic comedy which sounds seedy but is actually genuine, witty, and weirdly charming. It follows two cousins who meet for the first time and due to their spouses having multiple affairs they spark up a relationship of their own which slowly blossoms. I’m not generally a fan of the comedies which get Oscar nominations, but this one works.

My Winner: Seven Beauties

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My Nominations: Jacob The Liar. Cousin Cousine. 1900. Fellini’s Cassanova. Kings Of The Road. The Man On The Roof. The Man Who Fell To Earth. Small Change.

Two make it over from the official list – I drop Seven Beauties due to it being a 1975 film and appearing on my list last year. 1900 is a film which so far has avoided reevaluation by critics, likely due to its Communist leanings. However, any film starring Robert De Niro, Gerard Depardieu, Burt Lancaster, Donald Sutherland, Dominique Sanda, and directed by Bernardo Bertolucci deserves another look. It’s an epic movie charting the lives of De Niro and Depardieu who come from different cultural and ideological backgrounds but stay friends. They grow, take over from their fathers or go off to war, get married etc, and eventually their two backgrounds collide. It’s a long watch, but worth it.

Cassanova sees Fellini take the famous figure and transform him from the traditional womanising icon into something more akin to a barren and soulless figure, with Donald Sutherland the unusual choice for the role. Kings Of The Road is one of the better non-US road movies and while overlong it looks wonderful and is a cult film waiting to be seen by people who love cult films. Sweden’s The Man On The Roof is a tightly wound thriller about the investigation into the murder of a high ranking cop – as the investigation continues we learn that the cop was a pretty shitty guy, leaving a trail of ruined lives and bodies in his wake. The killer is revealed fairly early and we follow his motivations and actions too. The Man Who Fell To Earth is of course now remembered for being a Nic Roeg and David Bowie vehicle, and it’s as bewildering as it is enticing while Small Change is Truffaut at his playful, vignette based best.

My Winner: 1900

Let us know your winner in the comments!

The Innkeepers

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Ti West has been making ripples in the horror world for almost twenty years, with a number of low budget indie entries being well received in the horror community – with The House Of The Devil the praise went farther afield. With The Innkeepers, Ti West tells an updated version of the classic haunted house story, moving the action to a hotel in the midst of closing down, and featuring much of his trademark humour, character focus, and building of tension.

Sara Paxton and Pat Healy are the two leads and take up most of the running time together. They have a certain chemistry which will be familiar to anyone forced to work in a confined space day in day out with the same person or group of people. As characters, they hit if off and clash like an affable old married couple, and as actors we believe that they have been through some boring shit together. They are twenty-somethings working purely to pay the bills and for something to do, with marginally grander schemes and hopes, biding their time in an old Hotel in its final weekend before closure. Aside from their shared flitting aimlessness, both are amateur ghost enthusiasts and have been hoping to record some paranormal activity in their last night on the job – the hotel having a history of spooky encounters and a sordid past. Stumbling upon their relative seclusion and ghost-hunting is a faded Hollywood starlet played by Kelly McGillis (in another interesting horror role for the actress). She just wants a room for the night and doesn’t want to be disturbed, especially by Paxton’s Claire who is a bit of a fangirl. Luke (Healy) and Claire use their ghost-hunting equipment and soon begin to pick up creepy voices and music before the apparitions reveal themselves.

While not West’s breakthrough movie, this is the one which garnered him the most critical attention and became his biggest hit. The film has an old-fashioned horror feel, a subtle, creeping approach to scares, and using atmosphere over jumps and gore. The script and direction are light and playful both honouring the history of haunted house movies while giving them a modern gloss and respect. Once the second half reveals come and the mythology of the house is made known, the scares come faster after the largely comedic, slacker style first half. The three main performances are solid and likable, Paxton and Healy are easy to relate to, and even though there’s nothing new here it feels fresh, especially in an era of loud bang scares and CG blood spatter. It isn’t going to change anyone’s life, but it’s a fun movie for those who don’t mind a bit of backstory and set up before the pay-off.

Let us know in the comments what you think of The Innkeepers!

 

TTT – Top Ten George A Romero Movies

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Greetings, Glancers! It’s been an age since I’ve done one of these, so I decided to fall back on what I know best – horror movies. You can’t talk about the history of Horror movies without talking about George A Romero. Few film-makers can truly be said to have changed the game, especially within the horror genre, but Romero was one of those few. Taking the zombie sub-genre out of its voodoo/mind control past and turning it into something completely different, making the living dead mindless pastiches of whatever was going on in society at the time and making their main desire to chomp upon living flesh. Romero created the modern zombie and almost all of its rules and tropes, and his original trilogy is still the high-bar against which everything else is measured.

Romero wasn’t just a zombie guy but his films were always about something once you smeared away the surface. He retained an indie ethos from day one until the end and embodies the true spirit of story-telling and film-making – to pick up a camera and tell a story while ignoring the pressures of money making and business. Typically always based in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Romero’s films didn’t shy away from showing the lives and struggles of real people – the blue-collar types he knew so well, nor was he afraid of revealing their dark side. He wasn’t one for sugar-coating or creating an ensemble of working class heroes – he was clued in enough to know that, given the right or wrong situation, the young, old, rich, poor, were equally capable of making heroic or monstrous decisions.

Watching any interview with Romero or with those who worked with him, it’s clear the guy had a love for stories, for life, and for making people squirm in the face of gore or uncomfortable truths. His passing marked the end of a generation and we may never see his like again.

10. Bruiser

A movie I came to quite late because most of Romero’s non-Dead movies can be a pain to find. This is a lot of fun, and a different type of movie you might expect – the humour more overt and darker than a gallon of gore. A sort-of attack on Corporations and the empty, faceless lives of the executive class, it’s the tale of a man reduced to a blank slate allowing him to live out his murderous fantasies.

9. Knightriders

There aren’t enough movies about jousting, especially ones which replaces the horses with motorcycles. That’s…. that’s pretty much all the recommendation you should need. It reunites some of the guys from Dawn Of The Dead, stars Ed Harris, and features a little seen Stephen King cameo.

8. Monkey Shines

This is another one of those movies which was/is quite difficult to get your hands on, at least over here. Twenty years into his career, this was Romero’s first major Studio film and if anything he can be guilty of over-reaching and trying to pack in as much ‘stuff’ as possible. While the rest of the horror world in the late 80s were ironically pulling Romero-esque gore fests and comedies, Romero instead opted for a thriller with a bizarre premise – that of a wheelchair bound former athlete who gets a helper monkey (pray…for… Mojo) which in turn becomes psychotically attached to the man. They don’t make them like that anymore. For such a silly idea, there are creepy moments and Jason Beghe heads up the little known cast with a convincing performance. Stanley Tucci appears in a minor role – you wonder if Romero had got some bigger names (though I can’t see many A-Listers jumping on board with a screenplay such as this) maybe the film would have been more successful and opened a few more doors.

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7. The Dark Half

Romero and King always seemed like two peas in a pod – socially and politically conscious blood and guts shovellers with a keen sense of dark and often zany humour. It makes sense then that they would conspire to work together, on multiple occasions. This time, Romero helms a straight adaptation of one of King’s more outlandish novels – the tale of a writer (of course) whose pen-name alter-ego seemingly comes to life with murderous intent, not happy being retired as the writer pursues a more literary career. It’s a great premise and King pulls it off in the novel while Romero gives it a decent stab for the big screen. He is ably helped by several against type performances – Timothy Hutton as both Thad Beaumont and George Stark and Michael Rooker as the heroic Alan Pangborn. Veterans such as Royal Dano and Julie Harris also show up. It’s a pleasingly dark and grimy film, though it rarely racks up any real scares or tension even as it produces some effective gore. My King mega friend from school and I used to pass this around in VHS form to each other and frequently scrawl ‘the sparrows are flying again’ on the classroom walls.

6. Land Of The Dead

In 2005 the impossible happened – Romero returned with another entry in the Dead series. Enough time had passed that the people who grew up with his movies now had a more influential voice – a voice loud enough to rightfully proclaim Romero as the legend he was. I remember the hype surrounding this when it approached release – heightened by a couple of factors; first, that zombies were suddenly cool again thanks to 28 Days Later and the Dawn Of The Dead remake, and secondly that Romero was actually making another movie. It had been five years since Bruiser – which no-one really saw, and that had come seven years after The Dark Half. He had only made two movies in fourteen years and now he was back to show the youngsters how the zombie genre should be done, this time with a big budget to play with. With all of that hype, Land Of The Dead was maybe a disappointment to some when it dropped – I saw it at release and loved it, though I admittedly knew it wasn’t as strong as the first three. Still, it was a lot of fun and had some great performances and cameos – Dennis Hopper, John Leguizamo, Asia Argento, and the opportunity to see Romero’s work getting the love on the big screen was enough for me. There’s enough juicy satire to gnaw on – issues of class, wealth, and power are all touched upon, and of course there is a tonne of gore and action to enjoy.

5. Martin

I’d loved Romero films (namely those below) for a while before I really understood what a director was and how to find their body of work. Once I did, Martin was one of the first movies I tracked down thinking ‘first he did zombies, I wonder what he can do with vampires’. I was a little bewildered by Martin at first, though savvy enough to still enjoy it. Martin is a strange, powerful, and thought-provoking low budget film about a young man who believes he is the reincarnated spirit of a vampire. Or maybe not even reincarnated, that he has been a vampire for many many years, beyond what his body would lead you to believe. The film opens with a bleak and downbeat scene as Martin stalks and kills a woman on a train – he has no fangs and no apparent supernatural abilities and so resorts to drugging his victims and cutting them with a razor blade. At first it looks like he is a deluded psychopath, until we meet his grand-uncle whose fears seem to give validity to the claims. The old man is forced to look after Martin after Martin’s parents die, yet he clearly believes Martin to be a vampire as he hangs garlic and crucifixes around the house – to no avail.

There’s enough there to make for an interesting, grimy horror flick in itself but Romero adds further layers – Martin is obviously sexually frustrated and lonely, finding solace through calls to a local DJ, and Martin becomes a cult favourite to the audience of this radio show. We get to see romanticized flashbacks or dreams of Martin’s past exploits as a vampire, and it is never clear what the truth is. All we know is that he is clearly dangerous, and probably deranged. The longer cut of the movie gives even more detail about Martin and his relationships. It’s a shame the film is so low-budget – John Amplas is about as recognisable a name as you’ll get here, though he’s only recognisable from his small role in Day Of The Dead. It’s a film which is now heralded as one of the most unique vampire movies and is one which deserves a wider audience.

4. Creepshow

There’s something comforting about Creepshow for horror fans. It could be that you grew up with the movie and it has a certain nostalgia, or it could be that you grew up with the EC Comics and the film is a love-letter to those. It could simply be that the film is a lot of fun and was made by two of the greatest contributors, fans, and masters of the genre that there has ever been and that their adoration for horror shines through. King and Romero teamed up to craft an anthology – maybe the strongest anthology there is – inspired by the creepy and gruesome comics and stories they grew up with. They tell the stories through the eyes of a child, fascinated with the macabre and gory, and shunned by those who don’t understand. It’s probably a position all horror fans have been in at some point – being shamed for loving what we love, being kept away from it against our will, and being punished for being different. It’s a clever ploy which helps to make Creepshow an ideal gateway movie for kids just getting into the genre.

None of that would matter if the stories themselves weren’t great. None of the stories are weak – some are clearly better than others, some are more reliant on laughs (although all have some element of humour, dark as it may be), but all have something memorable. It gets off to a strong start with a story written by King specifically for the film – Father’s Day – in which the zombie of a miserly old man comes back to take bloody revenge on the daughter who killed him and the various descendants who want his money. It features a terrific zombie crawling out of the grave scene and some nifty effects and make-up courtesy of Tom Savini (who else?). It’s the same sort of revenge story who tend to see a lot in horror anthologies, but it’s a lot of fun.

The next segment is my least favourite, as King himself stars as a backwater hick who slowly becomes infected by some alien plant organism. King’s antics are both funny and cringe-worthy and the story is an amusing filler, even if it does feature a shotgun-based suicide. Something To Tide You Over is my second favourite and maybe the one which stood out most to me when I first saw it as a kid, thanks to the twist and cynical tone. I couldn’t remember the name of the movie, but I always remembered this and the next story. It’s about a man, played by Leslie Nielsen of all people, who subjects his wife and her lover to a terrifying demise; after finding out about their infidelity, he buries them up to their necks on the beach outside his home, then watches and gloats as the tide gets every closer. This being Creepshow, the dead soon return with their own plan for revenge. Ted Danson and Dawn Of The Dead’s Gaylen Ross star as the couple – great stuff from Savini again.

The Crate is the best segment here, genuinely creepy and – again – a lot of fun. It’s about a professor who finds a long-lost crate from an Arctic expedition. Naturally, the crate houses some sort of creature which begins killing and eating anyone who comes near. Another professor sees this as the ideal solution to the problem of his drunk, abusive wife – the great Adrienne Barbeau. Finally, They’re Creeping Up On You isn’t the best story but it has a strange atmosphere and something sickly which has always freaked me out a little. I don’t care about bugs or cleanliness or any of the other paranoia which goes on in the story, but still there’s something about the story which gets to me. E.G Marshall hams it up as businessman who lives in a hermetically sealed apartment – he only contact with the outside world to shout orders to his staff and receive calls from disgruntled people saying how much he is hated. Then the cockroaches come. It’s the atmosphere – maybe it’s the fact that we don’t really know if the time is future, present, past – it could be some apocalyptic time and place, or it could be modern day. Mad Max is the only film to play a similar trick on me.

3. Day Of The Dead

For a long time this was seen as the black sheep of Romero’s Dead trilogy. In truth, it isn’t as culturally important or revolutionary as the first two, but show me a trilogy where each individual film changes the game. I’d say the original trilogy comes closest. While Day Of The Dead may not be as important, it’s still better than almost any other zombie movie and it ranks as having some of the best gore effects you’ll ever see. There’s no excuse for this to have not won an Oscar. Moreover, the claustrophobic setting and cast of characters are just as interesting as the previous two movies and if anything both are taken to extremes. As it’s Romero, there are themes upon themes, the most front and centre being the the war between military and science, war and understanding, thought and action, science and superstition. Taking that to its extreme, it’s a film about the dangers of two opposing sides unwilling to consider the position of the other, the fallout, and those caught in the middle. There just happens to be millions of zombies lurking around to pile on the pressure. Two underground factions struggling for control while the mindless masses just want the whole thing to end? No, that’s not politically or culturally relevant at all.

The sad thing is, the end product, which everyone involved in should be immensely proud of, was not Romero’s original vision. His original was meant to be an epic – the zombie film to end them all. Various earlier scripts tell a vastly different story and his original script has yet to be found. What we do have is perhaps cluttered by too many characters, but the surviving ambition and various themes and elements of the original idea are present – the Zombies potentially learning, remembering, or getting smarter, and the idea of a police/military State. Lori Cardille is great as the lead, the intro is incredibly unnerving, and Joseph Pilato is fantastic as Capt. Rhodes. As much as the story and the warring factions are interesting, it’s the setting and the effects which are the star here – sloppy innards dropping off tables, legs being choked on, and my personal favourite – the quickfire dispatch of Rickles and Torrez – screaming, laughing faces being ripped apart and heads removed. I don’t think The Walking Dead has topped that one yet.

2. Night Of The Living Dead

It’s generally agreed that modern horror cinema started with 1960’s Psycho. Night Of The Living Dead took it to the next level, returning horror to it’s fantastical roots but blending it with the realism and suburban fears which Hitchcock’s masterpiece first portrayed. No longer could was it safe to trust the person next door, your friends, or even your family – and the less said about strangers, the government, and the military the better. Taking the traditionally mystical lore of zombies out of the textbooks and into the US heartland, these creatures were no longer slaves to some ritualistic high priest – instead they were mindless feeding machines, bent on a single course; to kill and eat the living. Our indecision, our inability to focus as a whole, or to follow a leader would be our downfall. Romero instills the blackest, and bleakest of humour in reminding us, or forewarning us, that this story absolutely will not have a happy ending – this is not a story where the hero wins.

If you haven’t seen the movie, then I’m not sure how you have stumbled upon this post. In any event, the film opens with a dreary, ominous uphill drive towards a ceremony as a modern-may-as-well-be-you brother and sister bicker and pay their respects. Within moments we have ‘they’re coming to get you, Barbara’, and the sudden ghoulish attack by a well dressed man. Barbara flees to an empty house, pursued by her attacker, where she meets Ben. Ben tells us that he too was attacked and we soon learn, thanks to docu-style news footage that the dead have come back to life and appear to be attacking the living. In other words – we’re fucked.

With an all amateur cast and crew, Romero deftly crafts one of the most claustrophobic and clever horror movies of all time, allowing the cast of recognizable characters and archetypes to show us their flaws in all their tragic glory, and in doing so single-handedly creates a sub-genre which still rules world-wide media today.

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  1. Dawn Of The Dead

After Night comes Dawn. The success of Night allowed George to go make a variety of other movies in different genres and styles, but none had the same critical or commercial joy. Dawn was always supposed to be bigger – showing the wider devastation of the dead coming back. Romero wisely begins the movie by showing just how far the country has fallen since the events of Night. Even though we don’t know exactly how much time has passed, we get the impression that it isn’t very long – I think a few weeks is mentioned. Politicians, scientists, talking heads, ordinary people, the military, journalists – everyone has been focused on this one issue but still an agreed consensus cannot be reached. Mirroring the frustration and ineptitude at that global level is the unrest at a civil level. We meet a SWAT team tasked with investigating a social housing building where residents have refused to give up their dead. Of course, chaos and insanity is the order of the day, with gung-ho types, zombies, those who cannot deal with the fact that their loved ones are now monsters, and others who simply cannot deal with this new world. It’s claustrophobic, heated, exhausting, confusing, and brilliant. Two such soldiers team up – Roger and Peter and decide that it would be best to get out of the city while they still can. Luckily, Roger knows Stephen, a journalist and pilot who plans to steal a helicopter and get out with his girlfriend Francine. The four flee together.

The bulk of the movie takes place in a shopping mall, where the four survivors clear the place of the dead and enjoy the fruits of their labour – safety, food, and more shops and stuff than you could ever want. The satire on consumerism is well-documented, but the weird thing is that it still kind of makes you want to hide out in a mall if the world does go to shit. At least you’d be safe and entertained and fed for a while.The increased budget allows for a more talented cast and crew, more ideas, bigger scope – it’s an epic in every sense. Beyond the terrific, now dated, gore and make-up effects, the film still packs a punch with its scares – up front and subtle. It’s almost perfect in every way and even at well over 2 hours long it’s a film which I never want to end. I enjoy every second with these characters, I want to spend as long as possible with them, and it’s always depressing when the end comes. Romero doesn’t give us the all out bleak ending he originally devised, at least allowing for a chance that our survivors may live to fight another day. It’s one of the most influential and powerful horror movies ever made, it’s the best zombie movie of all time, and it’s one of a small number of films which has truly had a profound and lasting impact on me.

Let us know in the comments what your favourite George A Romero movies are!

Achtung! Posting Update! (?)

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Hey. This post is more of a reference for me than anything else, but it’s probably beneficial to you lovely glancers who regularly stop by to shield your eyes from whatever gobbledicrap is spewing from my maw. I try to post the same sort of features on the same sort of days each week, so for anyone who is interested, below is what I will be trying to post each week going forwards. As always, if there is anything you’d like to see me type about or comment on, let me know. I have absolutely nothing better to do.

Monday: Manic Monday posts – some choice lyrics. On the first Monday of each month, I try to post a blog update – usually some random online crap I’ve found, a ‘get to know me’ piece, or what I’ve been up to recently.

Tuesday: Either a list of some sort (favourite movies in a given year/by a director, favourite songs), or a music/movie review.

Wednesday: Oscars day – I post my personal nominations and winners for a given Oscar category in a given year. We’re up to 1976 now.

Thursday: Another movie/music review.

Friday: Typically this is another movie/music review day, but in the future I will be publishing a second Oscars post, just so I can get through the series more quickly.

Saturday-Sunday: Usually I don’t post anything as I’m not near a Computer.

Regulars may be aware that I write many months in advance of actually posting, so here are some of my upcoming posts:

Lists:

Favourite George A Romero movies (coming later today)

Favourite 96 Beatles Songs

Favourite 38 Songs By The Music

Ranking The Manic Street Preachers Songs – Everything Must Go and TIMTTMY

Oscars

Continuing the 1976 Oscars series

Movies

Nightman’s Introduction To Foreign Cinema – A, B, C

Completing the 2019 Preview Series

Reviews Written when I was a young’un: Scream 2, Scream 3, The Seven Samurai, Spiderman 2, Street Hawk, Tears Of The Sun.

Reviews Written now that I’m old: Sanctum, A Quiet Place, The Innkeepers, 11/22/63, Zombie Creeping Flesh, Captain America, The Sand

The Lowest Rated Movies I Like – IMDB Edition

Music

Continuing My Favourite Songs Posts

Nightman Listens To Bon Jovi’s Lost Highway

Nightman Listens To Madonna’s American Life and Confessions On The Dancefloor

Nightman Listens To David Bowie’s Tonight and Never Let Me Down

Nightman Listens To Roxette’s Crash Boom Bang and Have A Nice Day

Nightman Listens To The Beach Boys’ Surfin USA and Surfer Girl

Nightman Listens To The Rolling Stones’ Debut and Number Two

Nightman Listens To Iron Maiden Solo Input – Steve Harris’ British Lion, Samson’s Head-On, ASAP’s Silver And Gold, Urchin’s High Roller

Nightman Listens To Disney Soundtracks – Saludas Amigos, Make Mine Music, The Three Caballeros, Fun And Fancy Free, Melody Time

Chart Music Through The Years – 1983, 1995

Top 1000 Albums Series – Talking Heads (Speaking In Tongues), The Stone Roses (The Second Coming), Marvin Gaye (What’s Goin’ On), Steely Dan (The Royal Scam)

Continuing my posts on every Manics song

Other

My Favourite Season Six Buffy Episodes

More Unpublished Screenplays for The Walking Dead

Unpublished Magnificent Seven Screenplay

Unpublished Screenplay for John Carpenter’s Batman

There is also a lot of surprise stuff in the works – some things I’ve been working on for a couple of years on and off, others more random one-off posts. I do have a new long term movie series coming up, an expansion of both the Foreign Cinema and my Favourite Movies By Year posts if you will (but they’re a pain to write). And because I have apparently lost my mind, I have multiple new music series coming up – listening to more artists whose discographies have been a blank for me, and a couple of other series to rival the Top 1000 series. It’s a busy time, so I hope you’ll join me for the ride, or at least a few of the twists and turns along the way!

 

 

Nightman’s Introduction To Foreign Cinema – My Journey

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Greetings, Glancers! I wasn’t originally going to write this post. In fact, the last time I made any changes to my first Foreign Cinema Intro post was January 2018 and that was followed up with my run through of each Country alphabetically. I haven’t posted those yet, and I haven’t finished writing them. The point is, that when I envisioned the series as a whole, this specific post wasn’t part of it. While reading the initial post back though, I felt like something was missing among all the begging and moaning – my journey. Maybe you don’t care about this, maybe you do. I thought I’d write it anyway as it may be helpful if you decide to begin watching foreign films or if you’re one of those strange people who simply wants to know more about me. I’ll keep it brief, as I did cover the basics in how I first started watching non-Hollywood fare in my first post. The other thing which is lacking is in my upcoming A-Z posts – I didn’t feel there was enough of a stepping stone between the Intro and those posts, so maybe this will help.

It was Bruce Lee. I don’t remember why or how I started watching his movies, but I was around six years old. From there I would watch any film I could get my hands on which had ‘Dragon’ or ‘Fists’ or ‘Ninja’ in the title or which featured box art with a guy wielding a sword or performing a fly kick off or onto a helicopter. What could be more simple? I don’t even think I understood the concept of ‘foreign’ back then – all I knew was that I liked these films and that I wanted to be able to kick the crap out of people too. By the time I understood that people could be actors and that actors appeared in different films, my favourite actors were foreign – Arnie and Bruce Lee. It made no difference to me that they may have spoken a different language or been dubbed or had a weird accent or were made in Hong Kong or LA. To a kid from Northern Ireland whose day usually began watching my dad checking under our car for bombs before letting us go to school, everything was foreign. This may be one of the biggest leaps for US viewers. You guys have everything you could ever want on your doorstep and centuries of breeding and culture to make you believe you are the best at everything. We’ve existed centuries longer and we’ve come to understand truths which you have avoided or not yet been faced with. But to me, everything was foreign and everything was mine no matter when or where or how it was made.

Later, once I began talking about movies with friends I would branch out to other martial arts and action stars – typically also foreign – Van Damme, Jackie Chan, Dolph, and into the older Hong Kong staples. Then I started to get into horror movies, thanks to Salem’s Lot and my love of gruesome myths and legends. Those myths and legends? Foreign. Horror was a different matter entirely and while I was generally allowed to watch movies where guys killed each other by jumping on their spines or beheading them with swords, horror movies were more off limits. While perusing the video store I would inevitably be drawn to the horror alcove to stare at the box art for Freddy movies, Fright Night, zombies, killers in masks, pictures of hands coming out of the ground, hands grabbing throats or clutching knives, houses perched ominously on hills with weird lights and shadows coming from within. While my first horror experiences were Hollywood based, I knew that the really scary stuff – the banned stuff – came from overseas. Once I began to understand what movies were and started to make lists – of things I had seen in magazines, on shelves, by recommendations, or advertised on TV or Radio by the few people who actually talked about these things, I began seeking them out. Not because they were foreign, but because they were supposed to be good. They were meant to be ‘must-sees’.

Eventually, in my teen years as your typical jaded youngster disillusioned by the populist stuff, I would fall a little more in line with the ‘seeking things out because no-one else knew about them’ cliche. I never fully embraced this as I’ve always been a single-minded person not swayed by the opinions of, well, anyone. Which makes this post ironic as I try to convince others to watch things, but we’ll ignore that. The point is that while I watched some films that I knew none of my peers had heard of, I soon saw no benefit or got no pleasure from the process. I wanted to watch movies I knew I would like and I wanted others to know about them. Cue many unwarranted one-way discussions on ‘this guy from New Zealand called Peter Jackson’ or ‘if you hate that America doesn’t make movies like Die Hard anymore, then check out Hard-Boiled’ and ‘you think that’s bloody/scary/weird, try Suspiria/Ring/Hausu’. I wasn’t bragging or trying to score points – I wanted my friends to see the movies I had seen and get the same kicks out of them that I did. I still want those kicks today, and I always will, and I want people to know that it isn’t all Marvel/DC/Disney/Blumhouse/insert favourite US studio.

So what do you like? My favourite countries for movies outside of the US have always been Hong Kong and Japan. While I appreciate that some people are simply never going to want to watch a Kurosawa movie, or a martial arts movie, both of those industries have a lot to offer. I loved J-Horror while it lasted, before it choked on its own tropes. Hong Kong action remains breathless and you can get everything from war epics to balletic gunplay to treetop sword-fights and jaw-dropping stunts. In recent years, the South Korean, Indonesian, and Thai markets have been stepping up their game when it comes to action and horror. Japan meanwhile continues to make both the weird and wonderful – experiences I guarantee you won’t get anywhere else on the planet, but also the most perfect character driven dramas of the moment.

As I’ll mention more in my A-Z posts, Australia is a great starting point. They have a rich and varied history, although the output is much smaller than the US and UK. Everyone loves Fury Road, right? Go back and watch the early Mad Max movies and the copycats. Elsewhere, France had a wave of horror movies which we are currently seeing either the tail-end of or the beginnings of what comes next. These are not for the faint of heart, but if you’re a horror fan you’ll find something to love. My history with French Cinema is more closely aligned to looking at critic’s lists of best films and best directors, although on a personal level it has been my love of certain performers or directors which has drawn me in more – I have a thing for pretty ladies so Virginie Ledoyan, Audrey Tautou, Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, Eva Green have all led me down some interesting paths. I also have a thing for cool anti-heroes and action movies, which France is full of. Italy was always more distant than France for me, until I discovered Dario Argento, Mario and Lamberto Bava, and Spaghetti Westerns, and with Spain I was taken more by the sexy stuff before learning more about the whole Franco/anti-Franco influence.

What I would recommend, before embarking on your journey, is to look at your favourite movies as they stand currently. You will have something directed by someone who worked outside of the US before making it in Hollywood. If not, I guarantee there will be an actor who fits that criteria. Go watch their non-Hollywood movies. In doing so, you might find another actor or director you like, and you can go watch those too. Suddenly, your world has opened up. Read my upcoming posts in which I’ll talk about my limited experiences of each country and I’ll talk a little about what I consider to be gateway films – films which are from the particular country, but also universal enough that the majority of film fans should get something out of them. I’ll list some of the most well-known performers and directors in the hope that you say ‘oh, I’ve heard of that guy/I liked that one thing they did/maybe I should give one of their other movies a try’.

Well, that was more of a P.S post than I intended, but I am typing this on the fly. My simple hope is for anyone reading this who is skeptical about foreign cinema to watch a single foreign movie – just one. Give one a chance. If one person comments to say that they’re going to try a foreign movie, I’ll be happy. If only one person comments to say that they did take the plunge, watched, and loved one, I’ll be ecstatic.

It’s over to you – let me know in the comments if you’re willing to give it a go and how you got on.

Best Actor – 1976

Official Nominations: Peter Finch. Robert De Niro. Giancarlo Giannini. William Holden. Sylvester Stallone.

This year finally broke free from the Jack and Al love fest, with neither actor getting a nomination (Pacino didn’t appear in anything this year). Peter Finch picked up the win for Network, ironically a film you could see a more aged Jack or Al play pretty well. Finch died before receiving the win. It’s a strong performance and a worthy winner, but there’s a better choice here. Giancarlo Giannini isn’t a name many will be familiar with, nor is the film he was nominated for – Seven Beauties. It’s bold and shocking and funny, and is notable for being one of the most successful foreign movies in terms of Oscars – five nominations including the first for a female director. Giannini is great in the role of protector, scoundrel, scumbag, survivor.

William Holden shines alongside Finch in Network, a friend who is disgusted by and becomes embroiled in the hysteria surrounding Finch’s angry man shtick. Sylvester Stallone is Rocky – need I say more? Finally, De Niro is Travis Bickle – again, need I say more?

My Winner: Robert De Niro

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My Nominations: Robert De Niro. Peter Finch. Robert De Niro. Giancarlo Giannini. Sylvester Stallone. David Bowie. Gregory Peck.

Most of the official nominees make my list, and only two join them. David Bowie makes his first major mark on the movie work with his performance as The Man Who Fell To Earth – who better to act as a Spaceman in a man’s skin? Gregory Peck works, kind of against cast, in Richard Donner’s classic chiller The Omen as the man who wants a son and ends up adopting one called Damien. Bringing his trademark earnest class to proceedings, he is one of many reasons why the film is such a success and why it endures – his pain at the end truly visible thanks to his guilt over avoiding the obvious for so long – and losing.

My Winner: Robert De Niro

Let us know in the comments who you pick as the Best Actor of 1976!