Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2015 - Daniel Budnik ""

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Film Discoveries of 2015 - Daniel Budnik

Daniel Budnik is a writer who is very near completion on his second book about movies. His first book, co-written with Joseph A. Ziemba, is Bleeding Skull!: A 1980s Trash-Horror Odyssey. Daniel is part of two podcasts: The Made-For-TV Mayhem Show, which he co-hosts with the awesome Amanda By Night of Made-For-TV Mayhem. And, Podcastmania, which is a bunch of fun folks talking about horror movies, pop culture and life in general. You can follow him on Twitter at @dannyslacks1. His current writing can be found at his blog Some Polish American Guy Reviews Things and there are also reviews of his on the Bleeding Skull! website.
http://bleedingskull.com/author/danbudnik/
--------------
VOODOO MAN (1944)
Directed by William Beaudine

William Beaudine is awesome. Completely awesome. I may have said this before but it’s worth saying again. The man made over 150 movies covering 5 decades and almost every genre. He always brought a very straightforward, no-nonsense style to every movie he touched. Plus, every once in a while, it becomes obvious that he knew he was moving around in the lower echelon of films and he is having a good time with it. Voodoo Man is one where Mr. Beaudine seems to be reveling in the insanity of his job. It features Bela Lugosi, John Carradine, George Zucco and meta-insanity of the finest order. I recommend this film highly. And, here’s the weird thing: It’s on Blu-Ray. What?! Now, if I could get a Blu-Ray of Lucky Ghost, please.
SPOOK BUSTERS (1946)
Directed by William Beaudine

In 2015, Warner Archive Instant put a ton of The Bowery Boys movies up for HD viewing. I watched about 35-ish of them over the course of a couple months. I enjoyed them very much. I would watch 2 or 3 every weekend. I would finish one and say “That was a fun Bowery Boys movie. What should I watch now? Oh, how about a Bowery Boys movie?” Unfortunately, I cannot differentiate one from the other… at all. So, I chose Spook Busters as my favorite because I remember the storyline and, I think, it may have been the first one I watched. Juvenile, silly and charming are the three words that sum up the Boys movies for me. You may not laugh out loud but you’ll smile a lot. And then probably want to watch 14 more of them. (Oh, also, the second film on my list directed by William Beaudine. Way to go, Bill!)
THE TELEPHONE BOOK (1971)
Directed by Nelson Lyon

I had seen the ads for The Telephone Book claiming it was a fantastic softcore, ultra-weird romp that I would love. So, that meant that I ignored it. Until I subscribed to Exploitation.tv… and watched it and loved it. I now own the Blu-Ray and I show it to anyone who isn’t turned off by lots of nudity. (Aunt Elaine – pass. Grandma Budnik – loves it.) A very affected post-hippie young woman in NYC gets an obscene phone call and loves it! So, she sets out on a fairly erotic/ comedic journey to find the caller. I don’t know if I felt beautiful inside after watching but I was smiling. I’ve seen it 3 times now and I will watch it 3 more times before you’re through reading this post.
ISN’T IT SHOCKING? (1973)
Directed by John Badham

I watched a lot of TV movies in 2015. (Please listen to the Made-For-TV Mayhem Show to hear me yak about them.) This one really stuck with me. It’s sort of a proto-slasher. But, it’s about senior citizens being killed in a small town. Sheriff Alan Alda and his secretary Louise Lasser have to save the day. Ruth Gordon plays an old lady. Alda, Lasser, Gordon, proto-slasher? What’s not to love? There may be a bit too much police procedural for some but this is a proto-slasher so there were no rules set in stone yet. And, if you ever wondered if Louise Lasser was hot… she is. Watch this movie for proof.
THE ODD JOB (1978)
Directed by Peter Medak

Starring Mr. Graham Chapman! The Odd Job came out in that space of time where Monty Python was still a thing but they were all working on separate ventures. They were in between the City Center live shows and working on the script for Life of Brian. This film is the story of a man named Arthur Harriswhose wife leaves him. Arthur is so distraught that he hires am odd job man to kill him. His wife returns but he can’t call off the hit. Yes, that is the plot of the first Whistler movie. But, this is the goofy version. It’s not a great film. It doesn’t have the all-out craziness of Chapman’s later epic, Yellowbeard. However, I enjoyed it. Graham is always cool and David Jason is very funny as the clumsy hit man/ odd job man. The Odd Job flew under my Python radar for years. (I’d even seen Rutland Weekend Television before this.) I’m glad I saw it. If you’re a Python fan, watch it this weekend.
SKATETOWN U.S.A. (1979)
Directed by William A. Levey

Baio, Swayze, McCormick, Filp Wilson, Ron Palillo, Judy Landers, The Unknown Comic, Billy Barty… More disco and roller skating than you ever realized you wanted! It’s an explosion of fun! No real main plotline here. Just a series of stories moving in and around a night set at the Fun Palace that is Skatetown U.S.A., all directed by William Levey, the man who gave us Blackenstein. But, don’t let that frighten you. Whereas Blackenstein is a hateful, strange, goofy, dark slog through the mire that I really adore… Skatetown U.S.A. is a bright, flashy, frothy jaunt that I love. Can’t believe it took me so long to see it.
THE DEVIL AT YOUR HEELS (1981)
Directed by Robert Fortier

Ken Carter is a daredevil who wants to jump a rocket-powered car across the St. Lawrence River. A gigantic ramp is built. There is a lot of preparation, a lot of setbacks. Years pass and one wonders: Will Ken Carter ever jump this darn River? The Devil At Your Heels eventually answers that question. But, the journey is far more interesting than the actual jump. It’s a Canadian documentary that is immensely entertaining. The man simply wants to drive that rocket-powered car across the river but all the red tape and all the problems and all the logistics keep getting in the way. It’s one of my favorite documentaries.
TRAXX (1988)
Directed by Jerome Gary

Shadoe Stevens plays an extremely violent cop who retires to make gourmet cookies. Eventually, the insistent pull of being violent for a living makes him take up Town Taming. He hires himself out to clean up a town in Texas of all its human scum. Shadoe Stevens was completely awesome as the announcer on Hollywood Squares. It turns out he’s a pretty amusing violent cop here. The film feels like a variation of the TV show Sledge Hammer! but more violent. It’s a satire of “violent cops who follow their own rules” movies and it’s got some very funny moments in it. I thought this film would be a bit of a patience tester. But, it’s a hoot. Also, Priscilla Barnes. So that’s a plus.
URBAN LEGENDS (1998)
Directed by Januse Alucard Selloff

Talk show host Rusty Defage introduces a series of short pieces that relate urban legends from around America in this anthology film. Urban Legend is offensive, stupid, insulting and oh so weird. The portions with Rusty on a Tonight Show-style stage featuring a laugh track might be shot on film but it looks so bad that it’s tough to say. The segments look like a mix of film and video. On some occasions, the viewer can see the edge of a TV screen. So, some of these segments were recorded off of a TV playing the segments. Intercut with all this are sketches from The Unknown Comedy Special starring The Unknown Comic, which originally aired on the Playboy Channel in 1982. Plus, there are brief random shots from a William Osco project called Pink TV. All of it adds up to an almost psychedelic cycle of Rusty, strange segments and weird interruptions that will make you think you’ve been drinking heavily. But, to misquote Tom Waits, “The movie’s been drinking. (Not me).”

No comments: