Rupert Pupkin Speaks: August 2018 ""

Friday, August 31, 2018

Just The Pods Vol. 9

Some of my podcast highlights for this week!

Film critic April Wolfe sits down every week with a female film-maker to discuss and take apart a classic genre movie of that film-maker's choice - horror, exploitation, sci-fi and so forth. Throughout their discussion, they also touch on filmmaking craft, the nuts and bolts of how films get made and and the current state of the industry itself. On this week's show, April and her guest - Actor/Filmmaker Jordana Spiro - discuss both the Charles Laughton directed classic NIGHT OF THE HUNTER and Spiro's new film NIGHT COMES ON as well. Highly recommended!

Husband and wife duo Cole Roulain and Ericca Long have a lovely thing going with this film podcast wherein they alternately pick a film each week and talk about it. As a guy who loves to talk movies with my own wife (and thus she has appeared several times on Just the Discs), I am a sucker for this kind of conversation, especially featuring two people who are thoughtful and intelligent about their discussion and who are both passionate cinephiles - which comes through every time. This week's show covers Toshio Matsumoto’s Funeral Parade of Roses (1969) and even though I've seen the film recently on Blu-ray, I found myself wanting to go back after hearing their chat. A fascinating film to be sure and a Kubrick favorite!

Stephanie Crawford (writer, co-host of the ScreamCast and a Just the Discs regular) interviews the co-founder and head feature programmer of the Philadelphia Unnamed Film Festival (PUFF), Madeleine Koestner. This is a really fun conversation that runs through the early process of starting a film festival and goes on to highlight the movies being shown at this year's PUFF:

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Underrated '88 - Dave Wain

Dave Wain is one half of the creative team behind - an online feast of genre film analysis and leftfield retrospectives. Along with his scribing life-partner, Matty Budrewicz, he’s part of the writing team on the acclaimed tome, It Came from the Video Aisle: Inside Charles Band’s Full Moon Entertainment Studio, which is available now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all good bookstores. Paired with Matty you can regularly find him adorning Blu-ray releases from 88 Films while studiously beavering away on their new book - Schlock & Awe: The Forgotten Films of the 90s Rental Realm. Dave’s day job is spent at the helm of one of the last Video Stores in the UK, while he can be found on Twitter @thedavewain.

ROBOWAR (1988; Bruno Mattei)
While any commentary on the career of Italian schlock auteur Bruno Mattei will ooze enthusiasm for his early eighties work like Zombie Creeping Flesh (1980) and Rats: Night of Terror (1984), the tail-end of the decade gave us a veritable orgy of outrageously enjoyable dreck from the much maligned filmmaker. Shocking Dark (1989) may sit at the top of most people’s must-see Mattei from this period, a fact that’s further solidified by Severin’s lush-looking Blu-ray this year, but for me, it’s ROBOWAR that is the undisputed highlight of this purple patch. Written by the husband and wife team, and frequent Mattei collaborators Claudio Fragasso and Rosella Drudi, it’s a flagrant fusion of Predator (1987) and Robocop (1987) which sees Maj. Murphy Black (Reb Brown) lead a group of commandos through the jungle, whilst being stalked by a killer robot called Omega-1. It’s cinematic insanity turned up to eleven, with scenes of the most epic gunfire blended with a level of slow-motion that would have John Woo salivating. “They’re professionals, they’re the best, and they’re called B.A.M for short” boasts one character as the mission is drawn up, “Big Ass Motherfuckers!”
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GHOST TOWN (1988; Richard McCarthy)
GHOST TOWN has always been a bit of a bastard child in Charles Band’s Empire Pictures era, underlined by the fact that it was directed by one ‘Richard Governor’ – a man who screenwriter Duke Sandefur confessed “I know next to nothing about him, but it is my understanding that ’Governor’ was not his real name”[i]. He was right too, as during our research for the booklet that accompanies the 88 Films Blu-ray release of the film we discovered that ‘Richard Governor’ was in fact the successful Aussie commercials director Richard McCarthy, whose only feature up until that point was Benny Hill Down Under (1977). The whys and wherefores for the absence of his name I’ll leave for another time, but the reason remains that he came on board the project owing to the early departure of Tourist Trap (1979) director David Schmoeller. With its half-finished effects shots, and a score that’s pieced together with familiar cuts from the Empire vault, it’s clear to see that Ghost Town bears the scars of far too many cooks in the kitchen. However, as a rare entry into the sparsely populated Horror-Western genre, and shot in the atmospheric surroundings of Old Tucson Studios, it remains a flawed but unique picture that’s primed for reappraisal.
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THE FRUIT MACHINE (1988; Philip Saville)
Beginning just a couple of miles down the road from me in Liverpool, Frank (Letter to Brezhnev) Clarke’s tale of two gay teenagers who witness a gangland murder in The Fruit Machine, a gay nightclub run by Annabelle (Robbie Coltrane), is a ground-breaking, bold and natural drama with a (still) pertinent dollop of social commentary. Taking its title from a homosexual detection device created in the 50s that was supposed to be able to identify gay men (derogatorily referred to as ‘fruits’), by making them watch pornography while strapped to a dentist’s chair as the device performed a pupillary response test, it’s blessed with a pair of leads In Emile Charles (brother of Craig) and Tony Forsyth who bring an astonishing authenticity to two deftly written characters. That great British thespian Robert Stephens is excellent as the lecherous Opera singer Vincent, while Bruce Payne is typically very Bruce Payne. A couple of kick-ass Divine tracks crop up on the soundtrack, while Oscar winning composer Hans Zimmer contributes one of his early scores, and legendary British cinematographer Dick Pope manages to blend fantasy and reality to create something truly unique.
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THE COUCH TRIP (1988; Michael Ritchie)
I know not why, but I’ve gravitated towards the career of Dan Aykroyd since forever. I’d put it down to The Blues Brothers (1980) I guess, with my two older brothers watching the John Landis’ musical extravaganza on repeat when I was a kid. Since then I’ve absorbed everything the beloved Canadian has ever done, even repeat watching Exit to Eden (1994) as a form of masochistic self-test to prove my commitment to the Aykroyd cause! While many may write off the post-Ghostbusters (1984) career of this comedy legend, there does in fact lie a host of undervalued classics like (trust me on this) Nothing But Trouble (1991), Feeling Minnesota (1996) and Celtic Pride (1996). However, at the peak of #UnderratedAykroyd is undoubtedly THE COUCH TRIP; I mean you only have to look at how many contributors to Rupert Pupkin Speaks have listed it in this series. It’s a fast-paced wild-ride of a comedy, with an ensemble to die for that includes Walter Matthau, Charles Grodin, Mary Gross, and Aykroyd’s wife, Donna Dixon. Available on Blu-ray both in the UK via 88 Films and Kino Lorber in the US, this is one film for which I’m happy to join the assembled masses and declare to be the King of #Underrated88
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MORTUARY ACADEMY (1988; Michael Schroeder)
We need to talk about Paul and Mary more often. Agreed? I am of course referring to the unlikely screen coupling of Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov who you’ll remember primarily for the stupendously brilliant Eating Raoul (1982), which Bartel wrote and directed (available on Criterion Blu-ray). While this distinctive duo also cropped up in movies like Jim Wynorski’s Chopping Mall (1986), and Bartel’s own Death Race 2000 (1975), I’m especially fond of them in the wildly uneven yet sporadically hilarious MORTUARY ACADEMY. Following the success of Police Academy (1984), the mid-to-late eighties were awash with every Academy-styled knock-off imaginable, from Neal Israel’s very own Combat Academy (1986), to Empire Pictures’ Princess Academy (1987) (shot in the former Yugoslavia!), to Rick Sloane’s Vice Academy (1989) with Linnea Quigley. Michael Schroeder’s film just about does enough to lift itself above such mediocrity, thanks in no small part to the presence of Bartel (who also co-wrote) as the deliciously camp mortuary owner Dr. Paul Truscott, who has a penchant for necrophilia, while Woronov is fabulously dry as Mary Purcell, Truscott’s assistant. Tracey Walter, Anthony James and Stoney Jackson pad out a satisfying, if clich├ęd supporting cast, while lines like the phone greeting of “Grimm Mortuary. You kill ‘em, we chill ‘em!” ensure your chuckle-o-meter keeps ticking over.
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LADY AVENGER (1988; David DeCoteau)
“The only thing she couldn’t remember… was how to forget!” Having directed close to one hundred and fifty films over a thirty-five year career, it’s safe to say there’s nobody quite like David DeCoteau. Though the Noughties and beyond are hardly likely to bolster the membership of this prolific auteurs fanclub (although I’d heartily recommend the soon-to-be on Blu Final Scream (2001), along with Leeches (2003) and Voodoo Academy (2000)), the eighties were awash with cult classics from the Oregonian, like Dreamaniac (1986), Creepozoids (1987) and Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1987). LADY AVENGER rarely rolls off the tongue with the same frequency as the aforementioned no-budget wonders, but along with American Rampage (1989) it’s deserving of some overdue affection. Playing out like a classic revenge movie, Maggie (Peggy McIntaggart) goes AWOL from day release and sets about hunting down the gang of thugs that killed her brother. Sporting a distinctive white vest and red headband, McIntaggart (who’d go on to be Miss January for 1990’s Playboy) leads this female-fronted Death Wish with a cool assurance, ably supported by folk like William Butler and Michelle Bauer – familiar faces to DeCoteau / Charles Band obsessives. To top it all off, we get a dose of total earworm, as Nia Peeples opens the whole shebang with the toe-tapper ‘Back on the Savage Streets’, which was written for fifth season of Fame! It’s the perfect opening for a movie that is under no illusions to the fact it’s just an extremely well-assembled piece of low-brow action fluff, yet one that’s pining for a bells n’whistles boutique Blu-ray release.
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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Underrated '88 - Ryan Larson

Ryan is a lover, not a fighter. Empassioned by pop culture in general, he is a a huge fan of pop punk and hip hop music, cartoons, comic books, professional wrestling and film. He is currently the editor and founder of Ghastly Grinning, a horror media outlet with the aim to create a place that celebrates the genre in all its forms, and the co-host of the bi-weekly slasher analysis Keep Screaming podcast. Most importantly, he’s a husband and dog dad. 

I was born in 1988 so to say that any of these films are being called to mind from that year, specifically, would be categorically false. In fact, my love for film didn’t hit until my teenage years and even then it was years before I was finally able to branch out and start finding lost gems. I had to watch all the “must-see” movies first and then right around the time that movie stores started to die out, that’s when I was branching out my cinematic grasp. I’ll make it known that my favorite film from ‘88 is Who Framed Roger Rabbit? by a mile but luckily, through friends and streaming sites, I’ve been able to find these buried treasures and here is a small guide to some underrated films from the very year I was born.

Before Child’s Play, Don Mancini wrote the script for this comic book inspired creature feature. Cellar Dweller is just shy of being ripped straight from the pages of an old Tales from the Crypt comic. Feeling distinctly EC, the movie has a completely comic book plot. Colin Childress (played by Jeffrey Combs) was a comic book artist who died in a murder/suicide thirty years prior but we are let in on the secret that he did not murder anyone, in fact, but conjured forth a monster from his drawings that murdered an aspiring musician and seemingly destroyed by setting flames to the pages but also killing himself in the process. Now Whitney Taylor (played by the beautiful Debrah Farentino) has moved into the artistic community where Childress once lived. The movie is off the rails whacky, with a cast of strange but endearing residents that Taylor interacts with and a handful of wildly fun day dream sequences, it’s all wrapped up neatly with an actual badass looking monster that’s a bone gnashing vivisecting giant. Practical effects and gut punch ending make Cellar Dweller a film that’s begging to be seen.
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Lea Thompson and Victoria Jackson star in this oft-overlooked late eighties sex comedy. Flipping convention on its head and using the AIDS epidemic of the time to create a romantic comedy, Casual Sex? was the only directorial outing from Genevieve Robert, but seek it out. A female led comedy from a female director that is boldly discussing casual sex in a smart and funny way is something that must be seen. Jackson is great as the co-star and Andrew Dice Clay delivers perhaps his greatest performance, but Thompson steals the show and is is peak Thompson in this fourth-wall-breaking intrinsic comedy. It’s smart, subtle, and full of nuanced relationships and adult situations but never feels as heavy as it could.
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I’m a huge fan of animated films and Scooby Doo has always been one of my most beloved cartoon creatures. This feature length film from the heyday of the mystery solving great dane takes place outside of the standard Mystery Inc sleuthing. Instead, it gets really wild and is part Universal Monsters, part Speed Racer. Every year, Dracula hosts a race with all of the famous monsters (for horror heads, it’s a great line-up of Universal rip-offs) but when the Wolfman retires, he must make a new one. Shaggy Rogers is destined to become the titular werewolf but because it’s a cartoon, he transforms back and forth with every hiccup. Featuring Scooby and Scrappy, as well as Shaggy’s ne’er seen girlfriend Googie, Reluctant Werewolf is a blast of a film that pays homage to all the monsters represented while also crafting a Wacky Races level of insanity that is laced in cobwebs and tombstones.
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From the master of batshit action, Andy Sedaris, Picasso Trigger is about a crime lord who is on a lethal hunt to eliminate all of the Agents of L.E.T.H.A.L. to avenge his brother that they killed. Listen, I won’t lie to you, a lot of this move feels like some sort of late night Showtime flick you would have run across in the mid 90’s but I can promise you this: the plot makes less sense and way more murder exists. Picasso Trigger, by the way, is the NAME OF A CHARACTER. You know what else? It sports a ton of scantily clad, rifle wielding women and one of them is named PANTERA. This movie is complete nonsense but weirdly endearing. It almost exclusively takes place on or near a beach and it feels just as sunny and breezy. Plus, A BOAT GETS BLOWN UP WITH A GUN THAT SHOOTS TRIDENTS.
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I don’t know how underrated this is, considering in my circles it seems to be pretty loved, but by the general moviegoing audience standard, Waxwork needs to be seen more because it’s a masterpiece. Using the brilliant yet simple premise of a waxwork museum where the set pieces transport you to that location with the dummies coming to life, Waxwork a love letter to the horror genre while also maintaining itself as a solid science-fiction action piece. Zach Galligan of Gremlins fame stars, alongside Valley Girl’s Deborah Foreman and the always bombastic John Rhys-Davies popping up as a werewolf. Waxwork is a meta take on horror before it really existed and needs to be celebrated much more often than it is.
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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Just The Discs - Episode 69 - IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS

On this episode, Kalyn Corrigan returns to talk IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS and the new Scream Factory Blu-ray - also included in this discussion is a run down of Brian and Kalyn's Top Three Carpenter film favorites at the end of the show.

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The Disc discussed on this episode:

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Special Features:
-NEW 4K Scan Of The Original Film Elements
-NEW Audio Commentary With Director John Carpenter And Producer Sandy King Carpenter
-NEW Horror’s Hallowed Grounds – A Look At The Film’s Locations Today
-NEW The Whisperer Of The Dark – An Interview With Actress Julie Carman
-NEW Greg Nicotero’s Things In The Basement – A New Interview With Special Effects Artist Greg Nicotero Including Behind The Scenes Footage
-NEW Home Movies From Hobb’s End – Behind The Scenes Footage From Greg Nicotero
-Audio Commentary With Director John Carpenter And Cinematographer Gary B. Kibbe
-Vintage Featurette – The Making Of In The Mouth Of Madness
-Theatrical Trailer
-TV Spots

Monday, August 27, 2018

New Release Roundup for the week of August 28th, 2018

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TUCKER: THE MAN AND HIS DREAM on Blu-ray (Lionsgate)
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BOUND - Olive Signature Collection on Blu-ray (Olive Films)
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BRAINSCAN on Blu-ray (Scream Factory)
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THE HORROR OF PARTY BEACH on Blu-ray (Severin)
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STRAIGHT TO HELL on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber)
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SHOT on Blu-ray (Vinegar Syndrome)
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DEAR DEAD DELILAH on Blu-ray (Vinegar Syndrome)
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5 YEARS 5 FILMS VOLUME 3 on Blu-ray (Vinegar Syndrome)
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5 YEARS 5 FILMS VOLUME 4 on Blu-ray (Vinegar Syndrome)
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THE NAKED AND THE DEAD on Blu-ray (Warner Archive)
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A MINUTE TO PRAY, A SECOND TO DIE on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber)
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COUNRY on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber)
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UPGRADE on Blu-ray (Universal)
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MIND GAME on Blu-ray (Shout Factory)
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AQUAMAN: RAGE OF ATLANTIS on Blu-ray (Warner Bros)
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