Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2019 - Andy Ross ""

Friday, January 17, 2020

Film Discoveries of 2019 - Andy Ross

Andy Ross is a film writer, humorist, and improv performer, whose weekly column “Batteries Not Included” has been seen in The Loafer, an arts publication covering the Tri-Cities Tennessee area, for 13 years. Andy also writes a monthly column in The Greeneville Sun about classic film. In January of this year, he published his first book, the comedic mystery novella “Saved on Sunday, Dead on Monday,” about the death of a pimento cheese magnate. He can be found spreading his particular brand of nonsense on Twitter @ThatAndyRoss.

“Wicked, Wicked” 1973, Dir by Richard L. Bare
I’m a big fan of William Castle, so I have a soft spot for gimmick films. Not only does “Wicked, Wicked” cover that with the strange spilt screen effect, but it also falls into a category of films that I like to call “Someone had to cut a check for it.” Films from a major company or studio that are so oddball you have you think that at some point someone in a suit had to sign off on this, then another person had to go and write them a check to make the thing.

I wouldn’t call “Wicked, Wicked” a good movie, per se. But it’s such a weird, campy, romp that you can’t help but be dazzled by it, with the added oddity of its writer and director being best known for the Joe McDoakes shorts and directing most of the TV series “Green Acres.” It’s what I suppose it would be like to take a bunch of psychotropic drugs while watching “Psycho” AND listening to a Jefferson Airplane album at the same time.
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“Mystery Street” 1950, Dir by John Sturges
This film took me by surprise, it was a blind buy I picked up during a Warner Archive sale, and I just absolutely fell in love with it. Ricardo Montalban is fantastic in it, it very much has a sort of template for the kind of procedural TV series that would come in the following two decades. A real gem of a noir!
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“Polyester” 1981, Dir by John Waters
OK, I am deeply ashamed that it wasn’t till this year I saw this one, but I am woefully behind on some of Waters’ films. This film is a delightful hoot from start to finish, and to see it with my own “Odorama” card was a real highlight. I think the pairing of Tab Hunter and Divine is one of the greatest achievements of 1980s cinema. Just an all-around fun film and one I need to revisit with Waters's commentary track turned on.
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“Daredevils of the Red Circle” 1939, Dir by William Witney and John English
I never thought we’d see the day that movie serials of the ‘30s and ‘40s would come out on blu-ray, but I am here for it. “Daredevils of the Red Circle” has just about everything you could want in a cliffhanger. We have a trio of circus performers as our heroes, a villain named “39-0-13” who goes around impersonating a wealthy benefactor, and plenty of great chapter stoppers that leave us wondering how our heroes will escape.

Seeing serials like these for years in rough shape on VHS releases and bootleg tapes, it’s downright shocking to see them looking so clear, but from a 4K scan, this looks amazing and is worth the time to watch.
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“The Horror at 37,000 Feet” 1973, Dir. by David Lowell Rich
Where can I begin with this one? First off, this very much falls into the “someone had to cut a check for this” category. This TV-movie made by CBS in the early 70s has…well…everything. William Shatner, Buddy Ebsen, Chuck Conners, and The Professor himself, Russel Johnson. It’s “1960s TV Stars Bingo.” Druid ruins are cargo bound to the US from the UK, and the ghosts are not happy about and begin to terrorize the passengers. Simply put, this is William Shatner fighting Ghosts on a plane.

The film is truly ludicrous, bizarre, awful, and just mind curdling insane. Hands down it’s the most batshit crazy movie I’ve ever seen. At one point, to the fight the ghosts, the passengers build a freakin’ fire on a cocktail table in the lounge of the plane. Honestly, this film should have won an Emmy just for existing as every single minute of this is an exercise in “WTF?”
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1 comment:

rsvance said...

I love Mystery Street! I’ll have to check a few of these out.