Rupert Pupkin Speaks: September 2018 ""

Friday, September 28, 2018

Just The Pods Vol. 13

F THIS MOVIE! - Home Video Horror with Rob Galluzzo (Dread Central Presents)
On this week's F This Movie Podcast, a dream team kind of pairing happens as Patrick Bromley chats Blu-rays with Rob Galluzzo (of the venerable Shock Waves podcast). They talk about Rob's acquisition work with Dread Central Presents as well as their upcoming slate and then go on to offer essential Blu-ray picks from Labels like Vinegar Syndrome, Code Red and Scream Factory. Two of my favorite Disc loving dudes together at last! Love it!

This week, Nick Pinkerton (who has done some lovely Blu-ray commentary work previous to this) interviews Ethan Hawke about his new directorial effort BLAZE and they also get into FIRST REFORMED and other acting work he's done. I find Ethan Hawke to be a thoughtful and fascinating person to listen to and this talk is no exception:

YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS host Karina Longworth joins the Vidiots boys to talk about her virtual "picks" and it is a delightful discussion about some very cool films:

Host Matt Gourley brings on Andy Daly to talk about Michael Bay and his experience on TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON - these stories alone are entertaining enough, however Gourley also asks him about other films and TV shows he's worked on and there are lots of gems there too.

Delightful hangout episode of this always enjoyable show. Sean Duregger and Just The Discs regular Stephanie Crawford talk about what they've been watching lately (MANDY, NO ESCAPE, HEREDITARY, FIRST REFORMED and more) and then delve into THE PAPERBOY (1994), VINYAN (2008) and GIRLY (1970).

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Underrated '88 - Sean Whiteman

Sean Whiteman is a writer/filmmaker living in Portland, Oregon. His most recent shot-on-VHS short, BRAMBLE ON, played the Portland International Film Festival and the Portland Underground Film Festival. He just finished his new script (a paranormal police horror) called: BLUE LIVES SPLATTER.

Sean's Underrated '86 picks
Sean's Film Discoveries of 2016
Sean's Underrated '87 picks
Sean's Film Discoveries of 2017
Letterboxd and Twitter: @seanwhiteman
instagram: bombnumber20

Pass The Ammo (dir: David Beaird)

“That man is so horny not even the crack of dawn is safe.”

I would dare anyone to watch the first thirty seconds of this movie and then say out loud, with sincerity, “I’d rather not continue watching.” Personally, I don’t think it’s possible but I’d love to hear if you were able to pull it off. The prologue features Tim Curry as a televangelist staring directly at the camera while simultaneously floating in space and preaching tacky gospel to us while wearing a shit-eating grin on his face. I don’t have the vocabulary to tout the brilliance of this opener any further so I’ll dish another key detail to keep you on the hook. It stars Bill Paxton as a man who commandeers one of Curry’s live broadcasts and turns it into a hostage situation in order to recoup money that the preacher’s church has scammed his girlfriend out of.

So we have Paxton in one of his very first leading roles, as an outlaw going toe-to-toe with Tim Curry’s hypocritical church (fellow members of the congregation: Annie Potts and Brian Thompson). If this somehow had made it onto the TBS/TNT circuit, it would be burned into the nostalgia-slates of anyone who chanced upon it while growing up. It’s infectious as hell and filled with good people, great lines and a real deft directorial touch. It is an instant rewatchable.
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Cameron’s Closet (dir: Armand Mastroianni)

“Can I play with this?”

I’m gaga for this one. I’ve seen it a handful of times and can hardly tell you why I’m so fond of it. There’s something about the way it’s shot and the way it sounds that evokes the rounded-edge safety of an afterschool special. But then, there’s something about the machete-beheading and the ongoing demonic battle that makes me feel like there’s some diamond cut precision horror hiding underneath the soft-spot music cues and the tender interplay between Cameron and the police officer investigating his demonic closet on his behalf.
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The Chocolate War (dir: Keith Gordon)

“This is more than a sale, it is a crusade!”

I wonder if Wes Anderson realizes how much this movie influenced him. In 1988 Keith Gordon dropped a perfect RUSHMORE inspiration-bomb precursor, filled with beautiful production design, immaculate music choices, and a prep-school kid who dictates commands to a note-taking subservient classmate while stationed on the bleachers.

There’s a slight artifice to the performances which feels intentional. It’s as though the actors (like John Glover, Bud Cort and Jenny Wright) know humans don’t emote or articulate in these ways, but they also know the lines are juicy enough that they’ll be able to really sink their teeth into the deliveries.

The plot itself feels kind of shallow compared to the undercurrent emotions Gordon and the ensemble are able to imbue into each sequence. The music (Kate Bush and Yaz as highlights) makes the tale of a kid who doesn’t want to participate in his religious high school’s chocolate sale feel like an epic. Eventually the conflict between John Glover (as the chocolate pushing Brother Leon) and Ilan Mitchell-Smith (as Jerry Renault, a motherless sad-sack who doesn't want to sell the chocolate) takes on an existential urgency for the characters.
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Deadly Dreams (dir: Kristine Peterson)

“I keep dreaming about this hunter. Then I wake up and see him.”

I’ll take any opportunity I can to beat the drum for Kristine Peterson. Even in the trenches of genre fandom, people have been sleeping on her output. This was the movie that made the name stick for me. I put it on because of the cover art on the VHS but it quickly won me over beyond the superficial appeal. There’s a sweetness and realness to the two brothers at the core of the tale and it takes some twists and turns that I certainly didn’t anticipate. The real calling card is the dream-tone, for a movie that peddles in the terror of the subconscious, Peterson is able to manifest it visually and sonically in a way that instilled an astounding amount of low-level dread in me.
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Terrorgram (dir: Stephen M. Kienzle)

"Here is where evil is stamped and posted, fate is wrapped and sealed. For here the darkness in your soul is not a shapeless void but a horrifyingly real package of your own creation. A package that is not a deliverance but a reckoning. For this package holds the consequences of your past. A past you'e forced to accept when you sign next to the X."

Picked this up off the shelf because of the punny title and the fact that on the back of the VHS box it lists James Earl Jones as the voice of Retribution. For a thirty year-old horror anthology it was impressively ahead of the curve. Over the course of three segments it spun some heavy-duty thematic plates while keeping the tone light. Felt fully realized, rehearsed and reliable.

The sleazy Jim Wynorski-esque film director who ends up in a scenario where he's harassed by every female he meets feels like a WHITE MAN'S BURDEN concept experiment for the #METOO era. The second installment is a media critique that plays like ACE IN THE HOLE gone supernatural and the last segment throws a draft-dodging conservative into Vietnam to force him to meet his hypocrisy head-on.

Put this on the shelf next to TALES FROM THE HOOD for a socially-conscious anthology double-header.
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Vibes (dir: Ken Kwapis)

“I like to breathe. I’m good at it.”

A rare film that manages to supplement Goldblum’s idiosyncratic beats with a cast and script that makes him part of a whole rather than an anomalous bit of strange. Peter Falk and Cyndi Lauper have excellent comedic timing and the paranormal adventure comedy genre found itself a new classic.
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Plain Clothes (dir: Martha Coolidge)

“You’re supposed to be helping your brother Matt. Not getting nippy with some cheerleaders.”
Martha Coolidge is the shit. She’s got her go-to touchstones (REAL GENIUS, VALLEY GIRL) and some underrated stabs at award-caliber legitimacy (RAMBLING ROSE, ANGIE). Then she has a whole tier of watchable non-classics like PLAIN CLOTHES (and LOST IN YONKERS).

I hadn’t seen this one until recently and I was engaged throughout. Despite my reluctance to accept Arliss Howard as a credible candidate to go undercover-cop in a high school setting (he very much looks like a 30+ year old) I still enjoyed his low-key charisma. He never pushed a scene too hard, which is good, because they had a flimsy quality that was kept upright due to Coolidge’s light touch and the spirited performances from Howard, Suzy Amis, George Wendt, Dianne Ladd and Seymour Cassel.

If you’re searching for a sunny-afternoon-but-don’t-wanna-go-outside pick, look no further.
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The Unnamable (dir: Jean-Paul Ouellette)

“Randolph! They’re all dead!”
“That’s to be expected.”

While sifting through H.P. Lovecraft joints I came across this little number. It gave me two things that guarantee a positive review from me when dealing with titles wedged in the horror crannies. It gave me satisfying creature design and at least one satisfying internal thought process. This time, the heady thinker was played by Mark Kinsey Stephenson (as Randolph Carter). Basically it means there’s a rad thing to look at and at least one character makes decisions which don’t allow you to switch your mind over to scoff-mode. If Randolph Carter still thinks there’s hope, maybe there is. Apparently he returns for the sequel, which will totally be enough to get me back to this unnamable franchise in the future.
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Lair of the White Worm (dir: Ken Russell)

“Do you have children?”
“Only when there are no men around.”

Don’t have much to say about this one except that it actually does feature a white worm. The tone was sure-footed and carefree while the performances were charismatic and practiced. I’d been watching a lot of Ken Russell when I finally caught-up to this and it separated itself as a wholly coherent plot told with a campy flair that never inflated the piece beyond the stakes necessary for tension. It was a blast.
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Gandahar (dir: René Laloux)

“In a thousand years, Gandahar was destroyed, and and all its people massacred. A thousand years ago, Gandahar will be saved, and what can't be avoided will be.”

It’s a bit stodgy and a bit dry but that might be a translation issue (as the American version was overseen by human stain Harvey Weinstein -- he even brazenly gave himself “director” credit on this version despite this being a creation of FANTASTIC PLANET creator RenĂ© Laloux). Whatever version of the plot us we got, it felt like someone adapted an unsolvable riddle into a feature animation film. And while I still feel befuddled, I’m also very intrigued.

The character-work visuals are some of the most imaginative creations I’ve ever seen and one particular group of deformed heroes remind me of the M.U.S.C.L.E. Men toyline from the 80’s -- which is a rare compliment.
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The Brain (dir: Ed Hunt)

“I suggest you look into your own neurotic behavior. Then perhaps you will understand your continuing negativity.”

I burn through a lot of tape hoping stumble upon a VHS that leaves such a fiery imprint on me. This is one of those classic “it never came out on DVD or you probably would’ve heard of it” titles. I think it has resonance because of the satisfying thematic structure. Sure, it’s about a giant killer brain but it’s the methodology of the brain’s sinister plan that gives opportunity for gratifying opposition.

The titular brain exerts its power by psychically taking over a research facility headed by Dr. Anthony Blakely (RE-ANIMATOR’s David Gale playing another nefarious medical professional). Blakely hosts a public access show out of his facility called INDEPENDENT THINKING where he indoctrinates viewers with the Brain’s subservient line of thinking. Those who don’t respond to the mind control experience hallucinations that drive them to kill themselves and members of their family. Pretty tidy little plot, right?

Here’s where you get to indulge in your inner rebel. The lead character is a high school kid, who does brilliantly on his exams but also has a giant middle-finger attitude toward his teachers and any authoritarian figure. In one of his first scenes he’s blowing up the plumbing in his school bathroom,he’s that sort of kid.

He’s taken to the research facility as means of punishment for the exploding bathroom gag and, after running some tests, it’s proven that he’s almost immune to all the mind controlling effects of the brain. It appears he’s such an independent thinker that he’s humanity’s only hope against the mind-numbing effects of our villain. It’s a simple but excellent way of demonstrating the sort of catharsis you can find in something as superficially low-brow sounding as this. Any horror movie that casts a giant FUCK YOU as its lead character is forever timeless.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Underrated '88 - Steve Q

Though he prefers good films, Steve Q has reviewed over 1500 films you might not want to watch, if you knew they existed, on the blog "Down Among the 'Z' Movies." You can also find him on Twitter at @Amy_Surplice.

The Wizard of Speed and Time
Ray Harryhausen and Nick Park have all the fame, but the best stop-motion animator is Mike Jittlov, who expanded his short film from a decade earlier to feature length here. While not a great writer, director or actor, the things he does with animation are astounding and this film should be better known.
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Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers and Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama
These are not exactly feminist classics, but they are surprisingly entertaining. "Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers" is one of the few films by Fred Olen Ray (he's directed over 150) that lives up to its title and features a dance by Linnea Quigley that may be the scream queen's finest moment. "Sorority Babes" is one of maybe two directed by David DeCoteau worth seeing (he's directed nearly 150); it's about a demonic imp in a bowling trophy and it too stars Linnea Quigley.
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Hell Comes to Frogtown
The only good film directed by Donald G. Jackson, this is a post-apocalyptic film where Rowdy Roddy Piper is one of the last fertile men in a world where mutant frogs and women vie to rule. It's cheesy as can be, but is better than a million more serious films of its genre.
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1988 was the year that everyone with a camcorder made their own film, generally with disastrous results, but this video is one of the rare exceptions. It's a splatter film, with a killer who comes back every five years, kills in the fifth month and for five consecutive days. At least five members of the cast are also members of the director's family and the budget might have been in the hundreds of dollars, but, for fans of cheap gore, this is a find. It is decidedly not for others.
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Crossing Delancey and Dominick and Eugene
These are two excellent films that I think tend to still be under-rated, or at least under-watched. "Crossing Delancey" is my favorite romantic comedy of the 1980's, starring Amy Irving and Peter Riegert and probably the best performances in their respective careers. "Dominick and Eugene" is the story of two brothers, man-child Tom Hulce and medical student Ray Liotta and, if you can get through it without tearing up, you're tougher than I am.
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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Just The Discs - Episode 73 - SMITHEREENS Criterion Collection

Brian is joined this episode by Cole Roulain from The Magic Lantern Podcast to discuss Susan Seidelman's seminal debut feature SMITHEREENS and the excellent package that is the new Criterion Collection Blu-ray.

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The Disc discussed on this episode:

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Special Features:
-New 2K digital restoration, approved by director Susan Seidelman
-Audio commentary from 2004 featuring Seidelman
-New interviews with Seidelman and actor Susan Berman
-And You Act Like One Too (1976) and Yours Truly, Andrea G. Stern (1979), two early shorts by Seidelman, with new introductions by the director
- PLUS: An essay by critic Rebecca Bengal

Monday, September 24, 2018

New Release Roundup for the Week of September 25th, 2018

THE SWARM on Blu-ray (Warner Archive)
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EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC on Blu-ray (Scream Factory)
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THE [REC] COLLECTION on Blu-ray (Scream Factory)
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THE BRIDE on Blu-ray (Scream Factory)
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CYCLOPS on Blu-ray (Warner Archive)
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QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE on Blu-ray (Warner Archive)
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QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER on Blu-ray (Shout Factory)
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THE MAN WHO CHEATED HIMSELF on Blu-ray (Flicker Alley)
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ANDREI RUBLEV on Blu-ray (Criterion)
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A RAISIN IN THE SUN on Blu-ray (Criterion)
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THE COLLECTOR on Blu-ray (Indicator)

ABSOLUTION on Blu-ray (Indicator)

THE MIND OF MR. SOAMES on Blu-ray (Indicator)

DAY OF THE JACKAL on Blu-ray (Arrow Video)
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TRAPEZE on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber)
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GOOD TIMES on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber)
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ANTHROPOPHAGOUS on Blu-ray (Severin)
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ABSURD on Blu-ray (Severin)
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BODY MELT on Blu-ray (Vinegar Syndrome)
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THE HOUSE ON TOMBSTONE HILL on Blu-ray (Vinegar Syndrome)
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THE PRINCIPAL on Blu-ray (Sony)
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ANGEL TOWN on Blu-ray (MVD)
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FRAGGLE ROCK - The Complete Series on Blu-ray (Sony)
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