FLAWED FILM FRIDAY: “Sorcerer” (1977)



When the challenges on BBC’s Top Gear go too far.

To be fair, it’s too easy to dismiss films in the 1970’s.  You hear about a film about big trucks, and you think Convoy, or Smokey and the Bandit, or possibly Duel (which is really good).  You hear about a film with Roy Scheider, and you think Jaws.  You hear the name “William Friedkin”, and you think The Exorcist.  And then you hear the title Sorcerer, and you know it’s from 1977, and you’re probably thinking possibly bad sword-and-sandal-and-wizardry, or maybe rock-and-roll Vangelis-style animated opera by Ralph Bashki, or possibly even blaxploitation kung-fu disco mafia flick.  And you’d be so totally wrong on all of them.

Sorcerer, is, in fact, actually a rather good thriller, with essentially the same story as 1951’s Wages of Fear: four men are hired to transport an urgent nitroglycerin shipment without the equipment that would make it safe.  I haven’t see Wages of Fear, so it would be unfair of me to make a comparison.  In Sorcerer, in fact, four guys (criminals), who have made their way through various (nefarious) ways and (very illegal) reasons to the same South American hellpit, have to transport old, leaky nitroglycerin, in two decrepit trucks (cobbled together in a loving montage from the bits and bobs of about 7 other equally decrepit trucks), without any safety equipment, in order to blow up a fire that has started in an oil pumping station.  Because blowing up a fire with leaky, old nitro is the best way to kill such a big-ass fire.***


“The hell you say!”

So “Dominguez” (Roy Scheider), “Serrano” (Bruno Cremer), Nilo (Francisco Rabal), and “Martinez” (Amidou), the actors playing the four dudes who have been selected to drive this two trucks of death, set off into the South American jungle in their rickety trucks with the promise of $$$ and new identities should they succeed.  Or they will die fiery explosive deaths.  A win-win all around.

It’s good.  It’s really good.  And you will like these guys.  Even though they are bad guys.  That’s why they’re here in South America, trying to eke out some kind of living in a disreputable little town for an American oil company.  But they’re still bad guys, and things catch up to them, and these bad guys have to figure a way out.  But you will care, dammit, about how the end of this movie plays out, and you will hold your breath during that big wobbly bridge scene, and you will have to remind yourself that this is 1977, and those are all practical effects.

Why didn’t you ever hear about this movie, you ask?  Two Words:


Okay, ten, actually.

This flick has the great distinction of opening one month after a little movie you may have heard of, Star Wars.  So there was that problem.  Also, there are four “vignettes” in the beginning – the back story of our four main guys – and there’s no English spoken in the first 15-20 minutes.  American audiences have issues in general with subtitles. Because having to read is too much trouble, I don’t know. So, thinking that this was some foreign film, there were a lot of walkouts.  And then there was the problem, with, oh, the title of the damned thing.



Even worse, Sorcerer, brought to you by the same fella who brought you The Exorcist.

So.  You have a wacky title, bad timing, and a beginning sequence that makes the average jumbo-popcorn-eating-Bubba go “Huh?”  Which is a shame, really, because it’s actually pretty good.

But why Sorcerer?

I’ll tell you why.  Billy Friedkin wasn’t able to come up with a name himself, until they got to the bit where they needed POS trucks to cobble to together, and one of them happened to have the name “Sorcerer” painted on it.

Really.  Imagine if Orson Welles had named the movie Rosebud after the sled.  Paramount and the movie theaters had to put up cards saying that Sorcerer wasn’t a foreign film and the audience hadn’t wandered into the wrong theater and it didn’t turn out as well as everyone wanted it to, but then Friedkin went on to bring us Cruisin’ and To Live and Die in L.A., so I guess it turned out okay.

*** So, as it turns out, dropping dynamite into a big oil rig fire is in fact a good way to stop the fire.  The explosion quickly uses up all the oxygen, thereby smothering the fire.  At least that’s what the Hubster says, and he’s an engineer who’s studied this kind of thing, so I’ll go with that explanation.




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MINI MOVIE REVIEW: “Tom and Francie” (2005)


Angry Bunny and the rest of the Just-Altered-Enough-To-Save-Us-From-Litigation-Gang’s gonna get you!

According to IMDB, Tom and Francie “follows the creation of a new children’s tv show, “Accepting Everyone Through Music,” while pursuing the real reason behind the untimely cancellation of “The Flower Shop,” in 1986.” It’s a direct-to-video mockumentary in the style of “Where Are They Now?” mashed up with Tom and Francie’s attempt to recepature the old magic, as they were.

Now, this video was released in 2005, but the screen size format belies that … certainly this thing was made well before that.  Also, the video quality screams “Circuit City Closeout VHS Camera”.  Thirdly, the characters themselves allude to the fact that their previous show, “The Flower Shop” (which aired in 1986), went off the air a decade ago.  There are also visual clues to the time period when this may have been filmed — an electric typewriter, no cell phones … although this may have been deliberate by the writer/director/co-star … but I don’t think he was that clever. (poor dope.)

So what we have here is a movie auteur‘s attempt to make his own movie with his buddies.  The “old show” clips are kind of a scream, complete with costumes straight from a defunct children’s theater troupe, music lyrics about diversity that will make your skin crawl, and cardboard scenery good enough to chew through.  The puppets, on the other hand, are actually quite good:


“If I had a mouth, I’d introduce you to Forgetful Elephant, and Purple Nurple back there!  Thank you, Cincinnati!  Good night!”

Hey, I had fun watching this one.  But then I am a life-long member of the Sesame Street committee. On the other hand, I never knew what contribution Zoom! had to the world of children’s television besides Ubbi Dubbi.

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MINI MOVIE REVIEW: “Redline” (2010)


The moment when your hair breaks the sound barrier!


Wow.  Okay.  So … imagine, like, Speed Racer with much better animation (7 years worth, with 100,000 drawings), Deathrace 2000, but with much more bizarre yet likeable characters with impossible DA pompadours, the good parts of the pod race from Star Wars: Episode I, the war parts of Macross but with the animation being as cool as you remember it when you were 10 years old, all the action scenes of all the Fast and the Furious movies, a couple of heavy metal albums with double the good guitar bits, and a sweet sentimental love story.

So the movie’s like that.





“My hair doubles as a roll bar, baby!”




So what was the KC knitting while watching this?


This thing’s going on for a long while.  It’s 576 stitches per round.  I managed about 2.25 rounds during this 1 hour, 42 minute movie.


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DISASTROUS DOUBLE FEATURE: “The Glass House” (1972) & “Butterfly” (1982)



Double the Movie, Double the Icky Feeling That Makes You Want to Take a Shower!

Oh, dear. As my long-time readers know, I have a Netflix queue that defies both imagination and logic. You know how Netflix pops up with suggestions for you to watch? I think I’ve managed to break that function. I get both Sailor Moon titles as well as Friday the 13th. As the good Hubster says, I’m one hot mess. So both of these flicks showed up at my house at the same time, so I felt compelled to watch them back-to-back, as dissimilar as they are.

Anyway. The Glass House was a made-for-TV movie from 1972, based on a Truman Capote story, starring Alan Alda in all his sideswept hair – hang dog expression glory. Alan has the bad luck of accidentally killing a guy who mowed down a lady with a stroller with his car. Vigilante justice never pays, dude. So he gets sent down for 1 year (!) at a maximum-security prison (!!). Seriously. The same day he shows up as the new fish, Clu Gulager (it’s a 1970’s TV Movie after all!) starts his new career as a prison guard. Rounding out the cast is the great Vic Morrow and a magnificent porn mustache, along with Billy Dee Williams and his silky silky voice. Like all prison flicks, there’s the story of the established prison HMFIC prisoner (Morrow) who sets his sights on the new guy (Alda), and new guy feels the need to buck the established system because hey, he’s better than everyone else in prison because he doesn’t really belong here. Clu’s story is essentially the same — he’s a guy who wants to do the right thing and he’s set against the jaded old-timer guard and warden. To further drag along the “prison movie” milieu, there’s the obligatory rape scene, prison yard shiv scene, bad food in the cafeteria scene, and riot scene. The only real surprise was a moment with Billy Dee and his acolytes where you distinctly hear him say “motherf*cking”. Damn, did that go out on the airwaves to Little Rock? Wow. Be prepared for the nihilistic ending. It was the 70’s after all.

Butterfly is based on the James Cain novel The Butterfly, although you probably know his other stories better: The Postman Always Rings Twice, Mildred Pierce, and Double Indemnity. Butterfly is another potboiler in the same mold as his other stories — there’s murder, intrigue, and people jumping in and out of bed, although Butterfly has the added spice of possible incest! The movie was made to follow up on the success of Postman — the one with Jessica Lange and Jack Nicholson — so director Matt Cimber thought he’d be able to top that with none other than Stacey Keach and Pia Zadora. Yep, Pia Zadora.


“Yeah, it’s me. Grown-up Gi-Mar from Santa Claus Conquers the Martians!”

I’ve read this book, and I’ll tell you, Jerry Springer has nothing on this family. And this movie has such a star studded cast beyond the two main characters — good god, Orson Welles is in this thing. Also, Edward Albert (son of Green Acres Eddie Albert), Stuart Whitman, June Lockhart, and even Ed McMahon. Yikes. It’s like Battle of the Network Stars in this thing, and honestly, it’s not that bad of a movie. Even with Pia Zadora, because really, we just love to hate her for some reason. I think it’s the goofy Charo haircut.


So what was the KC knitting while watching these?


The knitting on this blanket goes round and round … round and round … round and round …

The hippy-dippy Jerry Garcia spiral grows!

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MINI MOVIE REVIEW: “Hundra” (1983)



Hundra slices! Hundra dices! Hundra is clad in Fine Corinthian Leather! 

I’ve never been a big fan of the sword-and-sandal flicks, whether they are of the old Conan variety or even the new-fangled Scorpion King or 300 or Prince of Persia variety.   I have seen a number of them but they tend to annoy me with how utterly ridiculous they are.  On that point, Hundra did not disappoint.  The titular Hundra (even her name sounds like intestinal gas) is a warrior from an all-female tribe that even in its single gender society still follows traditional gender roles.  Either you’re a birther or you’re a warrior.  Hundra was happy enough to follow this plan until the local male tribe got pissed off enough to decimate all of Hundra’s tribe.  Why?  Who cares.  After dispatching the bastards in the first of many extreme slo-mo fight scenes, Hundra seeks out the local oracle to discover that she must now rebuild her tribe by becoming a birther.


“Ick!  Seriously, have you seen early 1980’s Spanish men?  I’m taking my Fine Corinthian Leather French Cut Bikini and I’m OUTTA HERE!”

Here’s where the movie goes from being a revengist sword fighting flick to being nearly downright goofy.  All the male characters are completely one-sided belching, farting goons hell-bent on collecting dumb, weak-willed, large busted women to be degraded sexual playthings.  Hundra, of course, wants none of this nonsense, but she does make a friend of a head concubine to the local HMFIC who teaches her to clean herself up enough to get impregnated by the least unlikeable guy in the flick, the local medicine man:


SHE: “I’m willing to do this as many times as it takes to get pregnant, and then I’m leaving and you’ll never see me again.”     HE: “Okay.”

There’s lots of talk of destiny and places in society and where women belong in it, etc.  The picture tries to be at least mildly pro-women, but the scene in which the concubines rise up against the Man and kill him is ruined by the fact that guy is killed by “smuffication”:

SKIP TO 4:20 IN THE CLIP.  YES, 4:20.

At least the soundtrack is composed by the great Ennio Morricone, at least if you ignore the fact that it does sound one heck of a lot like the soundtrack to Red Sonja, which came out the following year.  One fun fact is that Hundra recycles cosutmes and props from Conan, which had come out the year before.    See, most TV and film studios work like the BBC, where they have only 6 actors and 3 sets.  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that star Laurene Landon not only did most of her stunts, she’s also a legitimate actress and not a Playboy Playmate like I originally assumed.  Isn’t that how most pretty women became stars in sword-and-sandal flicks in the early 1980s?


So what was the KC knitting while watching this?


Now why do I need a wool afghan when I live in Arizona?


Still working on my Carson Throw, and will be through August.  It’s only 576 stitches around so far.  By the time it’s done it will be a full-length movie per row!

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MINI MOVIE REVIEW: “Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht” (1979)


Look, I’m just going to say it.  I don’t get Werner Herzog.  I don’t get Herzog like I don’t get Fellini, like I don’t get Warhol, like I don’t get Eraserhead.  God knows I’ve tried.  I’ve seen Fellini’s 8 1/2 one and one-half times.  I walked out the first time.  I didn’t get it, I had a headache, and I tried again the next night thinking that maybe I was in a bad place and I needed to open my mind to the artistry.  And …. it didn’t work.  I think Warhol was a hack.  I’ve seen the movies he’s produced, I’ve been to his show at MoMA, and I’ve seen I Shot Andy Warhol.  All I get from Warhol is a feeling that I’ve been duped by a bunch of Xeroxed silkscreen done by his acolytes and that he laughed all the way to the bank.  Eraserhead … well, we all know Eraserhead is its own creature.  Maybe it’s supposed to defy firm explanation.  David Lynch himself has said that of all the literary explanations for Eraserhead, none of them are correct.  Well, see, maybe that’s the problem.  Maybe Lynch himself doesn’t even know.  But I forgive Lynch for this because he gave me Twin Peaks.

But Herzog?  Eh.  I have tried.  I’ve seen Even Dwarfs Started Small, Signs of Life, Aguirre, and Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Did I do wrong by going straight to the beginning, when Herzog hadn’t found his voice yet?  But then why did I find Cave about as dreary as reading a stack of grocery lists found in the bottom of a purse at Goodwill?  I mean, I’m sure it’s me.  I don’t understand why people insist Fellini, Herzog, and even Kubrick, for effs sake, are these perfect, holy creatures of cinema.  I was really hoping I’d enjoy Herzog because of my love of surreal German cinema, and when I realized that Herzog’s Nosferatu was essentially a love letter of Murnau’s 1922 Nosferatu, I was both intrigued and delighted.  I loved the 1922 film and I also loved the 1990 movie Shadow of the Vampire.  I felt certain that Herzog’s version would relieve my skepticism.  And then I saw Klaus Kinski in those teeth and bat ears.


Yes, frightening ….. Yes, creepy …… Um.  Not so much.

Klaus Kinski.  God love him because I’m definitely not a fan.  I’ve seen him in a few other things, and possibly the best thing he ever did was give the world Natassja Kinski.  But as an actor I find him rather irritating.  And in this movie, for whatever reason, those teeth he wears make be an irritating mouth-breather.  Seriously.  That mouth-breathing was front and center in every scene.  So, instead of a sexy beast of a vampire, we end up with a doughy-faced, mouth breathing, tantrum throwing, alleged daughter raper of a vampire who has less appeal than Gollum from a community theatre production of The Hobbit:


Gollum may be many things, but at least he isn’t an alleged-daughter-raping-mouth-breather.

So really, it’s quite disappointing.  Unless you’re one of those types who worships the very ground a director like Herzog walks on.  Me, he’s another one those people that my being raised in the South commands me to be polite about people I don’t particularly care for by saying certain phrases about him, like bless his heart or God love him.

God love him.

Not Kinski, though. He’s a creep.


So what was the KC knitting while watching this?

yarma_medium2 (4)

Purple cobwebs (Madeline Tosh Silk Lace) knit on stick pins (size 000).  This is row 100 or so.  I plan to be finished by summer 2073.

Yeah, probably not the best idea to knit something fiddly while watching a movie with subtitles.  That shit should block out, right?

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MINI MOVIE REVIEW: “Disco Godfather” (1979)


untitled (6)

You see this cat Disco Godfather is a bad mother… ” (SHUT YO MOUTH!) “But I ain’t talkin’ about Shaft.”  (Oh then, that’s okay.)

Oh Lord above, it’s a Blaxploitation flick from 1979.  The flares are bigger, the bling is blingy-er, and the sweet ladies are sweeter than Sweet Momma Stringbean in Crow T. Robot’s seminal script for Chocolate Jones and the Temple of Funk.  Rudy Ray Moore, who brought us the original Huggy-Bear-Pimp-A-Like Dolomite, is Tucker Williams, a former cop who is a famous DJ at the even more famous Blueberry Hill disco club:


“Put your weight on it put your weight on it put your weight on it put your weight on it!”


After Tucker’s nephew has one major freakout after having a taste of some Angel Dust,  Tucker decides to freelance as an unofficial cop/drug czar bent on taking down the whole operation from within, in between running his successful club, getting it on with his special lady, and practicing his own form of urban karate on the bad guys:


“Boom!  Wingtip platform in yo face, B!tch!  Now get outta here and take that token white boy with you!”

There’s some fun fight scenes, a lot of great music, and you get to see a congregation perform a prayer circle/exorcism on a teenage chick who having a bad case of the PCP wobblies.  This movie is pretty anti-drug for the time, and this was even before Nancy Reagan proclaimed that we should all “just say no”.  The story even uses the old Baby Roast story as part of the cautionary tale that Angel Dust should not be tried even once, unless you want to hallucinate your dead momma/your dead auntie/your familial angel of death.  Better to put your weight on it, put your weight on it, put your weight on it, put your weight on it, ad infinitem, per Tucker Williams, yo.


So what was the K.C. knitting while watching this movie?

yarma_medium2 (3)

Not being an Angel Dust kind of girl, I decided to channel my stoner hippy-dippy by starting the Ten Stitch Spiral blanket with Jerry Garcia’s favorite colors.

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