MINI MOVIE REVIEW: “The Last House on Cemetery Lane” (2015)

 Just down the street from the House on Haunted Hill, around the corner from Hell House, and one block over from the Last House on the Left.

Just down the street from the House on Haunted Hill, around the corner from Hell House, and one block over from the Last House on the Left.

A struggling screenwriter takes a holiday rental on a large house in Wales in order to get past his writer’s block.  However, the house comes with a hitch:  there’s an old lady living on the attic floor.  She never goes out, she’s blind, and apparently she gets her nutrition from the air. It turns out the house (or something) is evil but because our “hero” is a dope, he decides to fight the scary house rather than demand a refund from his realtor.

Instead of this flick, I recommend Burnt Offerings (1976), which is so much better.  It’s essentially the same storyline — including the mysterious old lady in the attic that comes as part of the rental.  It’s directed by Dan Curtis and stars Oliver Reed and Karen Black.  And you know how I love me some Karen Black.  Oliver Reed, not so much.  I always thought he was kind of creepy.

 Sorry, this is NOT the one with the little Zuni doll that's trying to kill Karen Black.  That one is Trilogy of Terror.  But this is good, though, as Oliver Reed gets killed by a chimney.  Really!

Sorry, this is NOT the one with the little Zuni doll that’s trying to kill Karen Black. That one is Trilogy of Terror. But this is good, though, as Oliver Reed gets killed by a chimney. Really!

**********

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

 Finally finished the socks, and now I'm binding off on a lace shawlette. Whee!

Finally finished the socks, and now I’m binding off on a lace shawlette. Whee!

Posted in Mini Movie Review, Playing with the Yarn, Snarky with the Cinema | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

DISASTROUS DOUBLE FEATURE: “Dr. X” (1932) / “Return of Dr. X” (1939)

 Um, big "ewwww", Dr. X.  Stop staring down at your daughter's Ta-tas.

Um, big “ewwww”, Dr. X. Stop staring down at your daughter’s Ta-tas.

In 1932, movies weren’t exactly, shall we say, under as many censorship rules as they are today.  There wasn’t a rating system, the Hayes Code wasn’t in effect yet, and so long as the flick didn’t show anything that you would see in either a John Waters or a John Holmes film you could get away with a lot.

Dr. X was based on the hit play The Terror that ran in New York in 1930 and 1931.  In this movie, Dr. X (short for Dr. Xavier) is part of a research group that features several creepy doctors.  Meanwhile, there have been several gruesome murders in which the victims have been…. well, nibbled on.  The NYPD are naturally flummoxed, so Dr. X uses his daughter (Fray Wray!) to help recreate the latest murder in front of his cronies to work out who the murderer is. The murderer is in fact one of the cronies, and yes, he likes to nibble on people, but his true work is creating synthetic skin:

"Am I pretty yet, Mama?  Am I pretty yet?"

“Am I pretty yet, Mama? Am I pretty yet?”

Fay Wray, of course, gets to scream her guts out while a goofball nosy journalist with apparent stock in a joke and prank shop saves the day.

So in 1932, this stuff was the bee’s knees, man.  There wasn’t TV, Prohibition was still on, and WWII wasn’t happening for the United States yet, so this kind of lurid stuff was eaten up.  A sequel was kicked around nearly immediately, but since Hollywood has employed morons since time immemorial, it didn’t happen until 1939:

"Hello,  Is there anybody in there?   Just nod if you can hear me.   Is there anyone at home?"

“Hello, Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me. Is there anyone at home?”

The first thing you see when you watch The Return of Dr. X is the standard this movie is not based on actual events or any person living or dead yadda yadda yadda but what they should have said was it may be called “The Return of Dr. X” but it bears no resemblance to any other movie or character called “Dr. X”. And I can put up with that but what I can’t tolerate is this:

" Of all the laboratories in all the B-Movie back lot sets, I had to walk into this one."

” Of all the laboratories in all the B-Movie back lot sets, I had to walk into this one.”

Yes, dear god, that is Humphrey Bogart, THE Humphrey Bogart, wearing an entire Ben Nye Student Makeup Kit.  And when he speaks, you die a little inside.  Because you know that poor sap was born to say lines like “When you’re slapped, you’ll take it and like it”, or “Things are never so bad they can’t be made worse”, but he was wrong because being a contract player to the Warner Brothers means you will take it, like, and ask for another.  Thank heavens they finally figured out what Humphrey was good for, because god knows he wasn’t good at playing a reanimated mad doctor who has to drink blood to live, because True Blood didn’t exist in 1939.  Outside the backwoods of Louisiana.  On this plane of fiction.

**********

So what is the K.C. knitting while watching this?

 Socks got heels!  Almost done!

Socks got heels! Almost done!

Posted in But It's So Bad It's Good, Disastrous Double Feature, Mini Movie Review, Scotvalkyrie is a grade-A goofball, Snarky with the Cinema | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Snorkel” (1958)

 And after the murders, his snorkel doubles as a bong.

And after the murders, his snorkel doubles as a bong.

The Snorkel is another early Hammer film of the thriller variety, starring Peter van Eyck as Paul Decker.  Much like a Columbo episode, we learn that Pete is the murderer first thing.  His method is clever:  he murders his wife by drugging her into sleep, sealing all the doors and windows to the room where she is laid out on a settee, turning on the gas, and then donning a snorkel mask connected to fresh air from the outside while he hides in a hole under the floorboards.

Clever, yes, but he doesn’t count on the tenacity of his stepdaughter, Candy, played by Mandy Miller:

“I wonder how many cans of Aqua Net does it take to kill?”

See, Candy’s always believed that Paul killed her father by drowning him, and that her mother would never commit suicide.  So she sets out from the beginning to discredit Paul and to prove to the Italian police that he is the murderer.  Mandy Miller was only fourteen when this movie was made, but her height and willowy shape made her look more mature, and her character is a bit shrill and childish.  Seriously, Candy has a full-time governess who makes her go to sleep at sundown.

At any rate, Candy proves herself to be a good Nancy Drew (as well as a “pesky kid”), figuring it out, and even almost exacting her own revenge against to the man who done her wrong by killing both her parents and her little dog Toto (I swear I am not making that up), but in the end she relents, informing the Italian inspector where to find Paul before skipping off into her happy future with her governess, a member of the British Consulate, and I’m assuming a new dog — perhaps named “Ol’ Yeller”.  Or maybe “Benji”.

******

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

 The other squishy slipper. Well, actually, the third slipper. The first slipper was way too big and had to be ripped out. So the slipper from the other day was the second slipper ... and you stopped spying attention about two paragraphs ago, right?

The other squishy slipper. Well, actually, the third slipper. The first slipper was way too big and had to be ripped out. So the slipper from the other day was the second slipper … and you stopped paying attention about two paragraphs ago, right?

Posted in But It's So Bad It's Good, Mini Movie Review, Snarky with the Cinema | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

TUES 12: What I Learned from Watching “Macabre” (aka “Frozen Terror”, 1980)

New Orleans ... where you can drive a Chevy to the levee but the levee is gone.

New Orleans … where you can drive a Chevy to the levee but the levee is gone.

1. Saying “This Movie is Based on Real Events” when your movie takes place in New Orleans means you can get away with just about any damn thing you please.

2.   Any self-respecting wife and mother will rent a well-appointed apartment in the historic district in order to carry on a torrid affair.

3. A blind man is unable to bathe himself without help from his mother, even when he’s in his mid-30s.

4.  The best occupation for a blind man in New Orleans is a brass instrument repairman, regardless of whether he can actually play any instruments.

5.  A 12-year-old girl, when jealous of her mother’s torrid love affair, can drown her little brother and apparently get away with it. (Huzzah!  Another entry in Kids Who Kill!)

6.  Only in New Orleans can you rear-end a hearse and then be decapitated by the coffin slamming through your windshield:

” Oh, for the love of Marie Laveau, I just had this car detailed!”

7.  All good second-floor apartments in New Orleans come with a refrigerator that features a locking freezer.

8.  If your landlord is blind, it is perfectly acceptable to make really loud sex noises because blind people can’t hear that kind of thing.

9.  If you really hate your mother, offer to cook dinner — featuring vegetable soup with the extra special ingredient, dead person earlobe.

10. New Orleans maggots are stronger than any cold that can be delivered by an apartment freezer.

11. A properly appointed New Orleans apartment also features a commercial rotisserie that is kept running at full blast at all times.

12.  A severed head that has been kept in a freezer for months will be able to suddenly leap up and bite you in the throat.  Take care when approaching.

******

Keeping up with the “Kids Who Kill” Tally?

Children of the Really Rotten Ilk:  9

They’re Not Bad, They’re Just Misunderstood:  3

Simply Trying to Channel Their Inner Evil Child:  1

Both Misunderstood and Misrepresented in Court:  3

Posted in Kids Who Kill, Snarky with the Cinema, Tuesday 12 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

MINI MOVIE REVIEW: “Maniac” (1963)

maniac1962

“… And I’m dancing like I’ve never danced before! See? Check these jazz hands!”

Back before Hammer films discovered Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing to become various vampires, mad doctors, and Rasputin, they churned out a number of “thriller” movies in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.  These movies tended to have a decent British cast but them feature an American actor in a lead.  This one is no exception — Kerwin Mathews (The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, Jack the Giant-Killer) plays an American artist whom we never see put brush to canvas who ends up in a little village in the Camargue region of Southern France.  There he smooches a young girl whom he discovers was sexually assaulted some years prior, so her dad (the titular Maniac) kills her assailant using his acetylene torch.  He goes off to an asylum in Marseilles, leaving his daughter and her stepmother to run the inn.  Apparently this information makes Kerwin feel all icky towards the daughter so he does the next best thing, which is schtup the stepmother.  Nice.

The stepmother, though, decides that she wants Kerwin to help her spring the maniac-husband from the slammer, and then the rest of the movie has more plot twists and surprises than any 90-minute movie should, which by definition should be exciting, but the end result is really just kind of …. blah.  It’s much less Maniac and much more Slightly Perturbed and Just Really Kinds Bitchy.

********

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

Squishy soft alpaca slippers!

Squishy soft alpaca slippers!

Posted in Mini Movie Review, Playing with the Yarn, Snarky with the Cinema | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Ivan the Terrible, Part II” (1945, released in 1958)

So when the heck does Smaug show up in this flick, anyway?

So when the heck does Smaug show up in this flick, anyway?

Well, I tell you what, it’s a good thing that this part of the movie recaps the first one in a “last time, on Ivan the Terrible …” style.  After all, it wasn’t actually released to the public until 1958, a few years after Stalin’s death.  Also, the characters’ and actors’ names are also recapped, which I found helpful, as I was spending the first movie referring to the characters as That Dude, The Other Dude, The Dude that Became a Monk, The Dude Who Could Play Jesus in a Movie, The Creepy Lady Who Looks Like a Dude, and Her Son.

So Part II picks up in 1566 or so, and Ivan is well on his way to being a crazy despot.  His main focus is how he is all alone, and how he can trust no one.  No one loves him, everyone hates him, he might as well eat worms.   However, Ivan is still battling the boyars, and we even get a treat of a flashback, showing how his mother was allegedly poisoned by the boyars so that they could take control and parcel out the “lands of Russia to foreigners”.   Ivan is also still grieiving for his wife Anatasia, murdered in the previous movie by Ivan’s own aunt, who is still schemeing to get her son Vladimir posted as “The Boyar Tsar”.  (Never mind the fact that Ivan had at least a half-dozen wifes after Anatasia.)

The movie is still sumptuous in its settings and costuming, but now the acting and cinematogrography seems to get more and more bombastic.  There are a lot of tightly posed closeups, shadows, and swashbuckling Shakespearean-type acting that even the Alabama Shakespeare Festival would envy.  Even better, near the middle of the film, it breaks into luscious color, featuring what looks like a mash up of Jerome Robbins’ Small House of Uncle Thomas ballet from The King and I and the Bottle Dance from Fiddler on the Roof:

"Hey everyone! Let's throw Eliza into the mosh pit! To Life, Eliza! L'chaim!"

“Hey everyone! Let’s throw Eliza into the mosh pit! To Life, Eliza! L’chaim!”

Eventually, a murder plot is foiled, and Ivan continues to reign supreme in Russia, knowing that his enimies in Moscow are vanquished, and he can now turn his sights on reunifying Russia without those pasky boyars getting in his way.  A Part III was originally intended, but seeing as how Stalin hated this one, most of the film that had been produced for Part III was destroyed and the whole project scrapped.  Sergei Eisenstein, the writer and director, died in 1948.  Sergei Prokofiev’s music was adapted into a ballet, Ivan the Terrible, in 1975.

******

What the K.C. is knitting while watching:

This is the part where the knitting never seems to end. *sigh*

This is the part where the knitting never seems to end. *sigh*

Posted in But It's So Bad It's Good, Live Theatre, Snarky with the Cinema | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Ivan the Terrible, Part I” (1944)

“All you mustache hipsters think you’re so great. It’s all about the BEARD, baby!”

It should really come as no surprise that Ivan the Terrible was intended as a propaganda film for Stalin.  In the early 1940’s, Joseph Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union, and even though Stalin had signed a non-aggression pact with Germany, Hitler was invading Russia.  Just can’t trust Hitler, can you?  However, Stalin rallied by promoting socialism, collectivism, and the destruction of the “enemies of the working class”.  Stalin admired Ivan IV (aka Ivan the Terrible) greatly, and believed that his struggle mirrored that of Ivan’s, so Stalin more or less commissioned this dramatic, richly costumed version of Ivan’s story, directed by Sergei Eisenstein, with music by none other than Sergei Prokofiev.

Ivan Vasilyevich was the Grand Tsar of Russia starting in 1547, over the protests of the other princes, the boyars, and many other folks who either didn’t like him or really didn’t like his wife, Anastasia Romonovna.   (not that Anastasia.  She came about 350 years later.). The fact that Ivan was called The Terrible is kind of a mistranslation.  He was commonly known as Ivan Grozny, and grozny is closer to terrifyingbut I suppose that has too many syllables for historians.

Anyhow, the movie starts with Ivan’s coronation, and even in black and white, the utter sumptuousness and grandiosity of the sets and costumes is obvious.

 I’m blinging so much I’m sh!tting glitter,  bitches!”

The first thing that Ivan does as Tsar, however, is the demand a national army to “unite” all the outlying lands of Russia under the crown.  If you don’t want to or can’t serve as a soldier, then give me all your money.  That includes you monasteries and churches too, you wealthy twits!  Naturally, the boyars and the other wealthy despise this idea, and they do their best to undermine Ivan, who already had issues with mental illness and paranoia.

“Does the Beard frighten you? MWAH-HAH-HAH-HAH!!”

By the end of Part I Anastasia is dead (shown as poisoned by Ivan’s aunt, who is driven to get her mentally handicapped son Vladimir crowned as Tsar), Ivan decides to rid himself of all these pesky boyars and princes and ally himself with the common people, so long as he can be their savior.

“Tiny people! Fear the Beard! The Beard is your protector and strength! MWAH-HAH-HAH-HAH!”

Will Ivan prevail?  Will his idea of the (not-exactly) autonomous collective with himself as supreme ruler become reality?  Will Ivan go completely batshit crazy before he was able to unite Russia into one Union? Well, apparently the world had to wait until 1958 to find out, as Stalin hated Part II, so they all had to wait until he was dead for about 5 years.  Fortunately, in these days of DVD delivery via mail, I get to find out tomorrow.

*****

What is the K.C. knitting while watching?

 The socks grow larger. They look bulbous because I keep my working yarn inside the sock as I knit. Heel coming soon.

The socks grow larger. They look bulbous because I keep my working yarn inside the sock as I knit. Heel coming soon.

Posted in Snarky with the Cinema | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment