Rupert Pupkin Speaks ""

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Underrated '76 - John S. Berry

Attempted positive guy on Twitter @JohnSBerry1 (I am not high on quantity of followers but overflowing with quality), occasional wise cracker on Gonzo Guys podcast and guy that saw Alien on HBO at way to young of an age. I still actively hunts down VHS tapes and am constantly taking notes to seek out films. It is near impossible to describe how happy I am after watching a gem of a film, often I have to go walk it off in the cool night air. Viva la cinema!
Now on: https://letterboxd.com/jawhnb74/

See Also his Underrated '86 and '86 lists:
http://www.rupertpupkinspeaks.com/2016/03/underrated-96-john-s-berry.html
http://www.rupertpupkinspeaks.com/2016/06/underrated-john-berry.html
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I was born just a little before this great year of cinema, but thanks to the early days of Starz and Encore with marathon weekend sessions during the HBO and Cinemax free I have seen my fair share of movies from 76. Making this list I used it as an opportunity to try and go a little B Side deep tracks (at least to me) and knew I had some unwatched gems in house.

There are a lot of strong and unique characters coursing thru films of this era. Would you really base a movie these days around an amazing Neville Brand or Millie Perkins? Or go full steam ahead with a dark comedy with heads getting lopped off or alien/god themes? Researching 76 releases once again pounded home the point of how there are so many gems and such little time on this moving conveyor belt that we call life.

Drive-In Massacre
The past few years I have watched a few George C. Scott films and always marvel how refreshing it is too see an older conservative insurance salesman like man in the lead role. In current movies you never let them lead and if they have a decent sized role they are either sick or on their way to being sick and usually played for hack different generation humor.

These two leads are in that vein, they look like the cops I grew up with as a kid. They are chunky, in bad suits, they sigh a lot, drink a lot and wear suits from JC Penny. The tone is kind of all over the place reminiscent of The Town That Dreaded Sundown with the mix of heavy violence with random scenes of silly action and interactions with awkward teen confessions and a WTF drag undercover operation.

The other characters are kind of over the top such as the bumbling doofus who cleans the grimy drive and his angry Anton LeVey looking boss (Robert E. Pearson may be the grumpiest performance in 70s cinema).

The movie does have a drive in sticky feel and I am pretty excited to see the updated Blu-Ray that Severin is releasing later this year. The movie never gets too scary but I had a moment with the end voice over/ post script where I thought that if I had seen this as a kid the ending would have chilled me and made me keep an eye on all the people watching with me.

Mother, Jugs and Speed 
Believe it or not Bill Cosby is not the creepiest character in this very dark comedy. Nope, that dubious honor is given to Larry Hagman, good ole’ JR goes full tilt in this one.

This is one of the darkest comedies to this day I have ever seen. For every thrust of a funny moment there is then a parry of a sad and or disturbing one. What is kind of great is it is several stories in one. One of a disgraced cop trying to earn something back while falling in love, a turf war between ambulance companies and/ or a woman fighting for equal rights among a bunch of rooting pigs.

In Captain Obvious statements Harvey Keitel is complex and great in the film and makes you wonder is he a creep or saint? Raquel Welch is not just content in being possibly the most gorgeous women ever but also just projects a charming sweet nature. With all the peaks and valleys thru this you actually care about the characters and are hopeful that some of them end up happily ever after (some I repeat).

I caught this film on Starz or Encore and told my friend Laura about it at school and she mentioned it to her cooler than hell, Parliament loving, Fender bass playing Dad and he wanted to meet this kid who knew of Mother, Jugs and Speed. He could not believe anyone had seen this movie and was promoting it to other teens. Now even as an older gentleman (I hope) I would recommend this movie for its amazing mix and hell I owe it as it told me about the glory of the peanut butter hamburger.

The Witch Who Came from the Sea
Sorry to hit the same note most do when writing about this film but this may be the most misleading cover paired with title in cinema history. It would be like having a bad ass Conan cover for The Sandlot. Millie Perkins gives one of the most unhinged performances I have ever seen and she is awkward and alluring all at the same time. Oh but mainly just terrifying and it is a true vision of someone losing all grips on reality.

The film feels disorienting as hell (in a good way) due to disturbing flash back scenes, possible dreams or hallucinations by Molly. It feels similar to when you wake up from a nap and are not sure of what time it is or where you are. A good bit of the movie you are trying to figure out what actually happens or who and what is real.

The supporting cast is also pretty great in this film as well. Lonny Chapman plays Long John an old grizzled sea captain like bar owner who you can almost smell watching the movie but has a pretty damn big heart for his small community of unlucky losers. Vanessa Brown plays the voice of reality and reason (although a frantic and troubled one) sister who tries not to push Millie over the edge but does not share her idea of the good ole days.

This movie also goes into my category with Martin in that the locations almost play a character in the film. The seedy bar, sister’s shag carpeted apartment as well as Long John’s bachelor lair all show how even though you are by the beautiful ocean your world can still be very dark and bleak.

Eaten Alive
When I was a kid I used to go with my Dad and Gramps around to junkyards looking for parts they needed. Once there was this terrifying guy wearing a dirty undershirt under a metal back brace and the image has still lived with me all these years. Neville Brand in Eaten Alive puts in a performance just as terrifying and haunting. Sure he is scary when performing acts of vicious violence but what really makes me uneasy is the moments when he is by himself muttering and shuffling around the dilapidated old hotel.

This is not a great movie, but it is super entertaining. Tobe Hooper does a Argento tribute with some of the lighting and once again torments Marilyn Burns. At first I was not too into it but then I almost watched it like it was a play with a decent set, it almost feels like Hooper was doing a cover band version in a self-contained space of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The characters are all pretty dark as William Finley plays a beyond disturbed Dad and Robert Englund as Buck is a peak into his creepy greatness that was about to come.

The IMDB has this as a 1976 release but some sources have it as 1977. Arrow USA just put out a super deluxe addition Blu-Ray and I am sure the colors really pop on it. I saw this on a 2 disc and for once I went thru most of the extras which actually increased my enjoyment of the movie. The slideshow of test screening comments are hilarious and the short doc The Butcher of Elmendorf: The Legend of Joe Ball make this a keeper.

Keoma
I once posted on Twitter that I think I am developing a Franco Nero problem and it was probably after seeing this amazing and unique film. I didn’t know a whole lot about the twilight Spaghetti Westerns and picked this up for a great price on a Blu-Ray double with The Grand Duel.

I went into this thinking I was about to see standard revenge western but immediately appreciated the unique situations such as a plague and what may be a witch warning and reminding Keoma of how awful things are. Nero is a tattered dusty half Indian half white man coming back home to find it in shambles and that his half-brothers have turned their back on their Pa and are helping a ruthless man “run” things.

The movie has flashbacks, slow motion spots and an odd soundtrack that often recaps all the gloom fit to sing in a Cohen like monotone. Keoma continues to be visited by The Witch and maybe she doesn’t exist, maybe only in his mind. Nero plays the troubled but do right man who is searching for something in an amazing fashion. When he rescues a pregnant woman from being quarantined and blood shed ensues he is detached but seems almost confused as to why he got involved.

This film also provided me with one of my favorite villains in Butch Shannon played in a sly manner by Orso Maria Guerrini. The film has a lot of depth to it and has a lot of side stories that are fascinating such as the down fall of George and redemption. It is a complex western and I am pretty sure I will soon be delving into the twilight Western Spaghetti data base soon.

Heart of Glass
This movie feels like being up early, the calm quiet morning on a camping trip. The air is kind of hazy and your mind is as well (hmm maybe a theme in 70s cinema?). The legend is that Werner Herzog hypnotized the entire cast for this film. They do seem to move thru the film in a ghost like manner even when creating amazing works of glass (Herzog hired real glass blowers for the film and the scenes when they create works are amazing).

The story is one of a desperate village that is in crisis when a glass maker dies taking the secret of how to make the ruby glass with him to his grave. You really get the feel of how dire a situation this is for an already struggling village and how the Baron is slowly losing his mind. During all this tension one man is the local Nostradamus predicting their inevitable doom of the village and casting spot on predictions of the world in the future.

I didn’t realize how effective the build of tension was until a ruby glass is broken and I gasped out loud more than I have at recent jump scare horror films. And to once again sound like a broken record I realized I cared about this village and wanted the happy ending which is just masterful film making.

The movie has an interesting shift at the end, throwing in almost a whole other beginning and end of a separate movie that has some of the most beautiful shots I have ever seen. You leave not knowing if this was a bleak allegory or one of triumph? I have plans to view this again and with Herzog’s commentary track as often the stories of creation and tribulations are just as unique and amazing as his films.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

New Release Roundup - August 23rd, 2016

MIDNIGHT RUN on Blu-ray (Shout Factory)
http://amzn.to/2b0B7yw


THE NICE GUYS on Blu-ray (Warner Bros)
http://amzn.to/2b2ggwJ


MODESTY BLAISE on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
http://amzn.to/2aKKZvN


CHANDU THE MAGICIAN on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
http://amzn.to/2b2gcwX


CITY ON FIRE on Blu-ray (Scorpion Releasing)
http://amzn.to/2b9IHdt


ASH VS. EVIL DEAD: The Complete First Season on Blu-ray (Starz/Anchor Bay)
http://amzn.to/2aOX3it


PSYCHO IV: THE BEGINNING on Blu-ray (Scream Factory)
http://amzn.to/2b2hojT


WOMAN IN THE DUNES on Blu-ray (Criterion)
http://amzn.to/2b2gOCY


A TASTE OF HONEY on Blu-ray (Criterion)
http://amzn.to/2b9Js6p


SPIDERS on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber)
http://amzn.to/2b9HT8s


WIENER-DOG on Blu-ray (Amazon)
http://amzn.to/2b9IyGX


TAB HUNTER CONFIDENTIAL on Blu-ray (FilmRise)
http://amzn.to/2aOY5Lz


RATCHET & CLANK on Blu-ray (Universal)
http://amzn.to/2aKNSwM


THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER'S WAR on Blu-ray (Universal)
http://amzn.to/2aKNSwt


3 BAD MEN on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
http://amzn.to/2bc2Gr1


LUCIFER: The Complete First Season on Blu-ray (Warner Archive)
http://amzn.to/2bc1XX4


FITZPATRICK TRAVELTALKS Vol. 2 on DVD (Warner Archive)
http://amzn.to/2bc28Se

Monday, August 22, 2016

Underrated '76 - Sarah Jane

Sarah Jane has seen almost 4,900 films. Her goal for 2016 is to watch 500+ movies. She hails from Southern California. She has spent time in England and Austin, TX. She currently wishes she didn’t reside somewhere in the South West. There isn’t a swear word she doesn’t love. Find her at @fookthis on Twitter and at letterboxd.com/fookthis.
See also her Underrated '96 and '86 lists:
http://www.rupertpupkinspeaks.com/2016/04/underrated-sarah-jane.html
http://www.rupertpupkinspeaks.com/2016/06/underrated-sarah-jane.html
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Burnt Offerings - Directed by Dan Curtis
What happens when you put both Oliver Reed and Bette Davis in the same picture? A hell of a lot of histrionics, that’s what. Throw in some Karen Black and Burgess Meredith and, voilà, you have the makings of a fun but not so scary house-that-scarfs-down-the-energy-of-people-in-pain kinda movie. Is it silly, sure but, c’mon it’s Reed and Davis, together again for the first time. It is worth the price of admission just for those two.

Grizzly - Directed by William Girdler
It is no secret I’m partial to ‘animals gone crazy’ movies. I love watching nature just destroy man for no other reason than man’s stupidity and Grizzly just happens to be one of my favorites. It stars Andrew Prine (a name to conjure with if ever there was one), Christopher George, and Dick Jaeckel. A pre-historic grizzly bear (ursos horribilis!) is running rampant in a national park and our three heroes must stop him. Did it rip off Jaws? Of course it did but, who cares? It is a 15 feet grizzly bear killing the hell out of people. What more can a girl ask for?

Mako: The Jaws of Death - Directed by William Grefe
Speaking of Dick Jaeckel and Jaws rip offs… I present to you Mako: The Jaws of Death. Jaeckel is a bit of a misfit and loner. One day, he finds out he can communicate with sharks telepathically and he makes it his mission to kill anyone who fucks with his shark friends. If that doesn’t tempt you to watch this then I don’t know what will.

To the Devil, a Daughter - Directed by Peter Sykes
Christopher Lee stars in this one as a Satanist priest (a role that will absolutely not surprise you) who is trying to keep a young nun (Nastassja Kinski!?) in his fold because he wants her to represent Astaroth on Earth. Richard Widmark stars as Kinski’s father who tries to get her away from Lee and his devil ways. It’s your typical late period Hammer but it’s a fun watch. Denholm Elliott and Honor Blackman co-star.

Who Can Kill a Child?- Directed by Narciso Ibáñez Serrador
An unsuspecting (aren’t they all?) English couple decide to take a holiday on an island off the coast of Spain before the woman gives birth. Just after arriving, they notice that the island is mostly filled with children and these children are acting crazy as fuck. Eventually, they realize these children are going around killing adults and they start fearing for their lives. Will THEY have to kill a child (or ten)? Watch this movie and find out.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Olive Films - TELL ME THAT YOU LOVE ME, JUNIE MOON & WILD IN THE STREETS on Blu-ray

TELL ME THAT YOU LOVE ME, JUNIE MOON (1970; Otto Preminger)
From its very unique opening title sequence (Pete Seeger walking through the woods with a guitar whilst singing his song "Old Devil Time"), JUNIE MOON promises to be one of those quirky and interesting 60s films (though it technically came out in 1970). The story is about a trio of misfits, fresh out of the hospital, who decide to live together. Junie Moon (Liza Minnelli), was badly scarred on the right side of her face and one of her arms when a deranged date dumped battery acid on her. Warren (Robert Moore), a gay paraplegic, lost the use of his legs when he was shot in a freak accident. And lastly, there's Arthur (Ken Howard) - an epileptic who is prone to "fits" at inconvenient times. So this ragtag bunch finds a fixer upper old shack being rented by a rich old widow who doesn't care what they are and they begin their cohabitation. What starts as a quirky dramedy of course takes some darker turns (as 60s and 70s films often do). I'm not a huge fan of this kind of tonal shifting in these 70s movies, but it's passable here. Thankfully, there's James Coco as a local fish market owner named Mario. He's one of the kinder, gentler characters in a world that is certainly not in favor of our band of misfits. James Coco is one of those actors that had a heyday in the 1970s, but wasn't given many thoughtful dramatic roles like this. I'm not familiar with Robert Morse as much but he plays things a little big here. It's either a fun and sassy gay character or totally offensive, depending on your mood. Also, Fred Williamson shows up for a bit later in the flick and that's always a refreshing surprise. I enjoyed that the movie offers lots of character moments throughout. The narrative meanders a bit, but in a good way. If you're a fan of those offbeat romances and buddy pictures from this period, this one will likely be up your alley. Also, I've decided that "Old Devil Time" is absolutely one of my favorite Pete Seeger songs. Enjoy it below:
JUNIE MOON can be purchased on Blu-ray here:
http://amzn.to/2bAcGsn

WILD IN THE STREETS (1968; Barry Shear)
One of my weird hang ups is that I have this remarkably extreme adverse reaction to 60s movies of a certain ilk. Specifically I'm talking about those having to do with the counterculture movement of the mid-to-late decade that bred the hippie stereotypes that invaded the movies of that time. Hippies make me crazy. Even though, in theory I agree with some of their liberal notions and politics, I couldn't be more turned off by the self-righteousness with which they are so often depicted in movies. Rarely have there been so many characters of a certain type in so many films whilst remaining as obnoxious as they often were shown to be. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate all movies with hippies. There are even some text book examples of counter-culture cinema that I like very much. THE STRAWBERRY STATEMENT is one of my favorites from back then and it very much goes into territory that usually vexes me. Some great performances save that one for me. And while WILD IN THE STREETS isn't necessarily saved by performances, the presence of Richard Pryor alone gives it a nice bump - in terms of cult cache most certainly. 
Right away, the movie starts to get in your face a bit with its philosophies and it's attitude about how the youth of America should be treated. I immediate felt an odd kinship between this film and something like BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS. One is a bit trashier than the other, but they both have a snarky point of view and more than their share of wild storytelling tropes and soap opera moments. WILD IN THE STREETS is certainly waaay more political. One point that is brought up over and over is that the young people (under 25) are the majority and that they have more power than they realize. This is rather prescient in an election year - even so many years after the movie was made. The guru of the film is a character called Max Frost (Christopher Jones). He is a celebrity entertainer/singer/orator that has become "huge with the kids" as they say. After he's asked to perform at a rally for a senator, he ends up running for president and winning by a landslide. After that, things get weirder. The thing that sets this movie apart from some other counter-culture hippie-fests of the same time is the way that it moves into an almost science fiction area by the end and leaves you with a bit of food for thought. It reminds me a bit of a much less funny 60s version of IDIOCRACY for some reason.

WILD IN THE STREETS can be purchased on Blu-ray here:
http://amzn.to/2bsb4Fb



Saturday, August 20, 2016

Underrated '76 - Kerry Fristoe

Ah, 1976.  Bicentennial mania ruled the day.  I, unlike many of you, was actually alive in 1976 and old enough to remember the patriotic fervor.  People covered everything they could catch in red, white, and blue.  They ate bicentennial corn flakes, bathed with bicentennial soap, and watched Bicentennial Minutes on TV.  I’m from Massachusetts, so I went on historic tours, watched reenactments, and celebrated our independence pretty much every year, but 1976 was special.  It was a big deal.  I digress.  Here’s a list of small, yet memorable films from that historic year.  
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THE SEVEN-PER-CENT SOLUTION
The great Sherlock Holmes (Nicol Williamson), struggles to keep his sanity amid cocaine-induced delusions and a puzzling case.  Fearing for his friend, Dr. Watson (Robert Duvall) tricks Holmes into going with him to Vienna to visit Dr. Sigmund Freud (Alan Arkin) for therapy and an end to his addiction.  Into this crisis enters the lovely actress Lola Devereaux (Vanessa Redgrave) who may be in great danger.  

Will Watson get Holmes to Vienna safely and will Holmes consent to Freud’s methods?  Who is at the center of Holmes’ anguish and will he solve the case of the missing actress?  

THE SEVEN-PER-CENT SOLUTION is an excellent film that has everything.  The intelligent dialogue and convincing performances work a treat.  You feel for Holmes while respecting his huge intellect.  Arkin and Duvall are wonderful, as always, and the cast of Laurence Olivier, Charles Gray, Joel Grey, and Jeremy Kemp flesh out the complex story.  It’s an action-packed and thoughtful film.  Also, I’ll watch anything Nicol Williamson does just to hear him speak.  That voice!


FOOD OF THE GODS
H.G. Wells wrote THE TIME MACHINE, THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU, and many other brilliant and prophetic stories.  Bert I. Gordon made a movie about large chickens attacking Ida Lupino.  MarjoeGortner, who can never quite handle the hero thing due to his excessive creepiness, stumbles upon big wasps, rats, grub worms, and chickens on a remote Canadian island.  Ralph Meeker (Ralph, I expected so much more from you.)Lupino, and Pamela Franklin co-star in this ecological nightmare film.  Is it good?  No, it’s not.  Is it fun to watch?  Yes.



THE FRONT
Woody Allen’s sentimental tribute to those blackballed by the House Un-American Activities Committee, THE FRONT tells the story of Howard Prince (Allen).  Prince is a bookie who helps his blacklisted writer friends by turning in their scripts as his own for a cut of the proceeds.  He’s not a political guy.  He’s just doing it for his pals and to make a buck.  As he sees the effect the HUAC has on his friends, he begins to question his own values.  THE FRONT is a small, subtle picture full of lovely performances.  Michael Murphy, Herscel Bernardi, and Andrea Marcovicci all perform wonderfully and Josef Sommer is terrific as the cold HUAC chairman.  The standout in this cast is Zero Mostel.   As stand-up comic Hecky BrownMostel steals the show.  He manages to be funny, sweet, and bewildered by his situation.  His character more than any other, shows the horror of the government’s witch hunts.  It’s a beautiful role.  Another cool thing about THE FRONT is that many of the cast and crew were blacklisted.  Director, Martin Ritt, writer, Walter Bernstein, and actors Zero Mostel and Herschel Bernardi were among them.  I recommend the film highly.



GRIZZLY
GRIZZLY is JAWS on a mountain.  It’s also one of the better THEM!/JAWS inspired films.  Christopher George, Andrew Prine, and Richard Jaeckel star in this film about a rogue grizzly bear who runs amok and chows down some campers at a national park.  Jaeckel definitely plays Quint, but George and Prine take turns in the Hooper and Brody roles.  It’s a fun entry in the JAWS copycat competition.  
Note: The giant grizzly with an appetite for hikers was not a grizzly at all.  He was Teddy, a Kodiak bear.

THE HUMAN TORNADO
Rudy Ray Moore reprises the role he created in DOLEMITE asDolemite, a stand-up comedian who runs afoul of a bigoted sheriff by fooling around with his wife.  He takes off to California with his crew to visit his club/brothel only to find a mob-connected nightclub owner threatening his business and his friends.  Dolemite and his pals fight the mob, save some kidnapped women, and just generally kick ass in this fun blaxploitation film.  Moore has loads of charisma and greatcomedy chops.  His Don Rickles-style insult comic routine is hysterical and he even sings a couple songs.  The action sequences are terrific too.  If you miss the 1970s, check out this film.  It’s a lot of fun.  Look for Ernie Hudson as one of Dolemite’s cohorts.

TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER
You know when you promise to pick up your friend’s daughter at the airport and she’s a nun in a satanic cult led by Christopher Lee and the sect gets annoyed that you won’t give her back and they kill everyone you know?  This film is like that.  Richard Widmark stars as a writer specializing in the occult who tries to save Nastassja Kinski from devil-worshippers who want her to act as the devil’s proxy.  While nowhere near as good as Hammer’s earlier THE DEVIL RIDES OUT, TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER still satisfies your Christopher Lee/Satan jones.  Denholm Elliott also stars as Kinski’s wussy dad who just might have sold his kid’s soul to the devil.  Tsk tsk.  

Friday, August 19, 2016

Arrow Video - MICROWAVE MASSACRE on Blu-ray

MICROWAVE MASSACRE (1983; Wayne Berwick)

I guessI should have know a movie with a title like MICROWAVE MASSACRE would be pretty gross and sleazy and it surely is. While the movie opens with a disturbing shot of a half-mummified corpse with its mouth agape, it quickly moves into a scene of large-breasted woman walking down the street - heavy angle on her boobs. Soon those boobs are sticking through a hole in a plywood wall at the edge of a construction site. We're talking the first three minutes of the movie and already it felt like there should be a giant neon sign flashing the word "classy" over the footage. What follows is an extended interaction between a man and his wife that would seem to run very parallel to that old comic strip "The Lockhorns" I used to read in funnies section of the newspaper. It's very much like a low-budget live-action version of that. The main dude reminds me of Jackie Mason's brother or something, without sounding anything like Jackie does. He's actually an actor named Jackie Vernon funny enough and he played the voice of Frosty The Snowman (which you will recognize) in those old cartoons. In MICROWAVE MASSACRE, it is bickering, bad cooking and general hatred that define his relationship with his wife. Thankfully they have a new fangled (and gigantic) microwave oven so the food can be prepared much more quickly and perhaps later it'll be put to better (and more deadly) use. 
The film is clearly a product of two things. First, it's one of the many "Massacre" movies that came out in the wake of TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE, MAIL GUN MASSACRE, MARDI GRAS MASSACRE, HOSPITAL MASSACRE and MOUNTAINTOP MOTEL MASSACRE are just a few of the titles one might have found in the horror section of their local mom and pop video store back in the 1980s. MICROWAVE MASSACRE was a movie I always noticed, but never rented for some reason.  The film is a part of is the general video boom back then, wherein rental shops were so hungry for stuff to line their shelves that they would buy just about anything - especially genre stuff. Though it was shot on film, MICROWAVE MASSACRE's gore is right in line with the Shot-on-video horror that found a niche back then. The other thing that probably grabbed people when this film came out was the obligatory presence of microwaves in people's kitchens at the time. Most everyone had a microwave in the 80s so it must have been an easy hook to incorporate that into a movie title (and premise). Microwave ovens have been the source of much myth and legend since the smaller countertop version of the device first started appearing in homes in the late 1960s. When I was in grade school, you'd always hear tell of some kid that put one of his pets in the microwave and blew them up. In Joe Dante's most famous movie, a Gremlin gets cooked and explodes in a microwave in just that way (though MICROWAVE MASSACRE came out the year prior).
So I had heard over the years that MICROWAVE MASSACRE kind of had a reputation for being one of the worst horror movies ever made. It's nice to have a solid expectation-lowerer like that when going into an old schlockfest like this. Is it the worst horror movie ever? Certainly not. What it is though is an odd combination of Herschel Gordon Lewis-style gross-out horror and goofy 80s T&A comedy (and EATING RAOUL). That said, it's easy to see why this movie has something of a following behind it. The film was certainly made with a sense of humor about it and the intention to entertain.  I'm sure a lot of folks discovered it on VHS and had certain expectations for it when they saw it. I'm sure many had a "what the hell IS this?" kind of reaction and others may have found it ultimately endearing in its oddball weirdness. It is absolutely something that every hardcore horror fan should see at least once as it is not like too many "Massacre" movies I've seen before. 

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:
-Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative
-Brand new audio commentary with writer-producer Craig Muckler, moderated by Mike Tristano
-My Microwave Massacre Memoirs - brand new making-of featurette including interviews with Muckler, director Wayne Berwick and actor Loren Schein
-Trailer

-Original mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
-Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
-Original treatment and 8-page synopsis (BD/DVD-ROM content)
-Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Wes Benscoter

MICROWAVE MASSACRE can be purchased on Blu-ray here:

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Underrated '76 - Eric Hillis

Eric Hillis is a freelance film critic and editor of themoviewaffler.com.
On Twitter:
https://twitter.com/themoviewaffler
or
https://twitter.com/HillisEric

Here's his Underrated '96 and '86 lists:
http://www.rupertpupkinspeaks.com/2016/04/underrated-96-eric-hillis-movie-waffler.html
http://www.rupertpupkinspeaks.com/2016/05/underrated-eric-hillis-movie-waffler.html
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Black Shampoo (Dir: Greydon Clark)
Only in the '70s would an exploitation meister like Greydon Clark attempt to cash in on the success of a critical darling like Hal Ashby. Well that's just what Clark did with this blaxploitation ripoff of Ashby's hit Shampoo, but apart from the hair salon setting and a leading man banging every woman he meets, this couldn't be more different, as hairdressing hunk Mr Jonathan goes to war with the mafia, leading to an insanely violent climax.

Bound for Glory (Dir: Hal Ashby)
Ashby himself had an under-rated release in '76 with this gripping biopic of folk singer Woody Guthrie. David Carradine gives a career best performance in the lead role, showing he could stretch himself beyond the low budget action flicks he's best remembered for. American cinema of the mid-70s was full of protagonists fighting the good anti-authoritarian fight, and Carradine's Guthrie is one of the most memorable.

Eaten Alive (Dir: Tobe Hooper)
Take an all star cast of household grindhouse names - Marilyn Burns, Robert Englund, Mel Ferrer, Roberta Collins, William Finley - and stick them in a dingy motel run by Neville Brand, who has a worrying penchant for feeding his guests to the establishment's pet crocodile. That's how Tobe Hooper followed up his debut masterpiece The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. This has all the ingredients of a drive-in classic, and even made the infamous British Video Nasties list, but it's only recently started to get the credit it deserves, thanks in no small part to a great blu-ray issue from Arrow Video.

Exposé (Dir: James Kenelm Clarke)
Udo Kier is at his crazy-eyed best in this erotic thriller about a novelist whose plans of writing the great British novel are disrupted by the arrival of his new typist, played by saucy '70s sex kitten Linda Hayden in the role of her life. Add pornstar Fiona Richmond to the mix and you've got one of the seediest movies of the decade. Yet this is no piece of trash; director James Kenelm Clarke does an outstanding job of creating a paranoid and claustrophobic atmosphere, and I can't help but wonder if this film was a huge influence on Lars von Trier.

The Front (Dir: Martin Ritt)
Many films have taken the Hollywood blacklist as their subject, but this comic drama is the best of multiple efforts. Michael Murphy and Woody Allen are excellent as a blacklisted writer and the nebbish who puts his name to his work. When questioned in the film's climax, Allen's final retort to the House Un-American Activities Committee is a wonderful piece of wish fulfillment.

God Told Me To (Dir: Larry Cohen)
The prolific writer-director Larry Cohen is responsible for many cult classics, but God Told Me To transcends the rest of his work. It's a genuinely creepy thriller in which members of the public commit acts of violence following visits by the titular deity. Tony Lo Bianco excels as the troubled Catholic police detective investigating the killings. What an under-rated actor he was. He should have been as big as his fellow Italian-Americans De Niro and Pacino.

Grizzly (Dir: William Girdler)
Director William Girdler shot fast and sadly died young, directing nine feature films from 1972 to his death at the age of 30 in 1978, leaving behind a legacy of drive-in gems including this classic man vs nature flick. Shamelessly ripping off Jaws, Girdler sends a bunch of characters off into the woods to track down the 15 foot grizzly that's been tearing hikers limb from limb. The 'explosive' finale has to be seen to be believed.

The Human Tornado (Dir: Cliff Roquemore)
Rudy Ray Moore follows up Dolemite with this mad cap sequel in which he takes on a redneck sheriff and the Italian mob while attempting to rescue a brothel madam and her girls. Full of the killer lines you expect from a Rudy Ray Moore joint, along with a ridiculously funky soundtrack and the sort of bad kung fu that would make Jackie Chan vomit.

Mother, Jugs and Speed (Dir: Peter Yates)
I could easily assemble a list of 10 under-rated Peter Yates movies; what a great CV this guy boasts. Viewers may be reluctant to seek out this one given the presence of Bill Cosby, but don't cut off your nose to spite your face - this is a real gem. Set among a group of oddball ambulance drivers - including Harvey Keitel, Raquel Welch and Larry Hagman - the movie plays like an urban take on Robert Altman's MASH, and is a cinematic predecessor to the many workplace sitcoms (Taxi, Cheers etc) that arrived on US TV shortly after.

Welcome to L.A. (Dir: Alan Rudolph)
Alan Rudolph really got a raw deal. Despite delivering a slew of great movies from the '70s to the '90s, many still ignorantly label him a poor man's Robert Altman, despite some of his best work standing toe to toe with that of his one time tutor. This, his debut, is his most Altmanesque work, an ensemble drama revolving around the return of singer-songwriter Keith Carradine to Los Angeles. As with Nashville, Carradine gets to show off his vocal talents on a wonderfully melancholic soundtrack. I'd like to think if someone with Rudolph's talents emerged today, he would be celebrated and given the respect he deserves.

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