Monday Morning Movie Review: Archive (2020)

It’s Monday morning, which means it’s a good time to ease into the week with a movie review.  Readers may be concerned that my blog is turning into a movie review site, given the slew of recent movie-related posts.  Even Friday’s guest post was a movie review!

What can I say?  October seems to be prime movie-watching season, what with Halloween approaching and the general fun and merriment of the holiday.  It’s also getting coldalbeit gradually, and only in fits and spurts—which makes for prime film viewing conditions.  Toss in RedBox‘s generosity with coupons, and it’s a recipe for weekly movie reviews.

So it was that I came to pick up 2020’s Archive.  It’s a British sci-fi flick that follows a familiar Frankenstein plot:  a man’s obsession with restoring his deceased wife in the form of a hyper-advanced AI leads him down a dangerous road.

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Lazy Sunday LXXXVIII: The Mountains

It was another weekend on the road, which makes 2020 my most traveled year by far—one of the many weird paradoxes of The Age of The Virus.

Lately I’ve enjoyed a couple of weekend trips to the mountains of western North Carolina, and I’ve grown quite fond of them.  When I was a child, we would go to my great-grandmother’s house in the mountains of southwestern Virginia, and these trips to North Carolina have reminded me of those childhood visits.

So, seeing as I got back this afternoon from the latest trip, I thought I’d dedicate this Lazy Sunday to the mountains:

  • SubscribeStar Saturday: The Mountains” – This post detailed our explorations around Burnsville, North Carolina, during the weekend of my older brother’s fortieth birthday.  We tried to visit Mount Mitchell, but the park was closed that Sunday afternoon for some mysterious reason.  Otherwise, it was a wonderful trip!
  • More Mountain Musings” – This piece expanded further on the Burnsville trip.  I also reflect on the spirit of mountain folk, and their ability to subdue the wilds and carve a living from the hollers.
  • SubscribeStar Saturday: Bearwallow Mountain” – I wrote this post about a hike up Bearwallow Mountain, outside of Hendersonville, North Carolina.  It’s a beautiful hike up the mountain to a pastoral landscape.  I uploaded some beautiful photos with this post, which give a good sense of the scenery.

That’s it for now!  Time to get ready for another week of work.  But my mind is still up on Bearwallow Mountain.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

blue-ridge-mountains-in-fog

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Bearwallow Mountain

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

Also, last week’s post on my third trip to Universal Studios in 2020 is coming soon—I promise.  This past week consumed far more of my time than I anticipated, so subscribers can expect that soon.

My uncharacteristic year of travel continued this weekend with a trip to Asheville, North Carolina, the hipster capital of the Southeast.  After our family trip to Burnsville, North Carolina, my girlfriend was itching to get back to the mountains, so we decided to come up and spend a day exploring the area.

It’s the first weekend in a few weeks that’s it actually been cold, and we reveled in the cold mountain air.  The high was around 60—perfect autumnal sweater weather.  It also made the hike up Bearwallow Mountain more pleasant and endurable.

To read the rest of this post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

Cross-Posting on OCF

Readers surely noticed that this morning photog and I cross-posted to each other’s blogs.  photog—the proprietor of Orion’s Cold Fire—contributed a review of the 1953 film The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.

To read my essay to his site—“The Concerns of a 35-Year Old Man in 2020“—you can click here.

photog asked me to comment on the concerns facing a Millennial in today’s world, so I dove into the various financial and social strains that have marked my generation.  I hope my whining adequately covered some of the nuance of the difficulties my generation endures, while also acknowledging our considerable blessings.

It was a great deal of fun to collaborate and guest-post with photog.  I’m a big admirer of his blog, and have contributed before, so it was great to share posts and get some fresh perspectives on the site.

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Guest Contributor – photog – “The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms” – A Science Fiction Movie Review

Blogger photog and I decided to swap posts this Friday as a bit of cross-promotion for our sites.  photog is a multi-talented man—a writer, a photographer, and a reviewer—and he possesses a real knack for writing great movie reviews.

So when he asked me what he should write about, I proposed something related to science-fiction, a genre he knows well.  I was thrilled when he came up with a review of an Atomic Age gem, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, from 1953.  The film was apparently a major influence on the Godzilla films, and spawned a number of “creature features” in the 1950s.

You can read more of photog’s reviews, as well as his political writing, at www.orionscoldfire.com.  It’s worth checking out!

With that, here is photog’s review of The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms:

This 1953 movie is the grandaddy of all the atomic monster movies.  The next year saw the appearance of “Them,” the giant atomic ants and Godzilla which really was a sort of knock off of the “Beast From 20,000 Fathoms.”  At least theoretically this movie is based on Ray Bradbury’s short story “Fog Horn.”  But other than the one scene where the Beast attacks a lighthouse there isn’t anything in the story that informs the plot of the movie.

So, this is the story of an arctic atom bomb test that predictably thaws out an amphibious dinosaur.  After killing one member of the military team via avalanche the beast heads south to re-enter his old stomping grounds in the Hudson River undersea canyon.  On the way it capsizes a couple of Canadian fishing ships, demolishes a Maine lighthouse and flattens a Bay Stater walking along the shore of Massachusetts.  Well, for that one you really can’t blame him.  I’m sure the guy had it coming.

And as these movies usually go, the military gets in touch with an academic expert on dinosaurs who is always an old man with a funny accent who always has a somewhat attractive young woman working as his assistant.  The military provides the old professor with access to a bathysphere and the scientist descends into the Atlantic Ocean adjacent to the Hudson River and is promptly eaten (or something) by the beast.

Now the protagonist (a French scientist who was somehow associated with the US Army’s arctic A-bomb test) rallies the military and leads the effort to destroy the monster as it rampages through lower Manhattan.  Early on it eats one of New York’s Finest in the person of a cop who attempts to take down the giant reptile with his service revolver.  Then the beast goes on a stroll down Broadway and crushes various cars and small buildings.  Finally, the Army moves in some bazookas and draws blood from the beast by blowing a hole in its neck.  But, wouldn’t you know it, its blood is full of virulent germs that have the soldiers keeling over after only minutes.

Fearing that explosives would start a plague the French guy proposes that a radioactive projectile be shot into the wound on the beast’s neck and thereby kill him without spreading his germs.  After swimming back into New York Harbor, the beast resurfaces at Manhattan Beach (which is in South Brooklyn) and the beast heads straight for Coney Island and begins destroying the Cyclone, the big rickety wooden roller coaster at the famous amusement park there.

The French guy and an army marksman don radiation suits and take a roller coaster ride to the top of the coaster’s highest hill in order to have a clear shot at the beast’s neck.  From that vantage point the marksman hits the bullseye and then they clamor down the side of the coaster before the beast’s death throes bury them in the rubble of the demolished ride.  Of course, the wooden ride bursts into flames proving just what a death trap it really is.  But by then the beast is dying and as we watch he breathes his last.  French guy and somewhat pretty paleontologist are now free to explore the romantic relationship that almost always await the survivors of atomic monster incidents.

This is one of my favorite old monster movies because New York is my old stomping grounds.  In fact, the beach in Brooklyn (Manhattan Beach) where the beast resurfaces was where I first met Camera Girl forty-five years ago.  So, we have that in common.  There weren’t a lot of famous actors in this movie but the special effects were handled by Ray Harryhausen and the sharpshooter was played by Lee Van Cleef of spaghetti western fame.  Now there isn’t any detectable acting going on except for the old professor played by veteran actor Cecil Kellaway.  But it combines the gung-ho attitude of all military movies before the Vietnam war era along with the silly mayhem expected when giant monsters are eating and stepping on people.  I highly recommend this silly romp but warn millennials that it was shot in black and white (the horror!).

TBT: The Joy of Hymnals

It being October, I tend to focus on the spookiness of the season.  I love Halloween, ghost stories, and scary movies, but it’s important not to get too bogged down in the chills.

So as I was going through posts from October 2019, I stumbled upon one of my old favorites:  “The Joy of Hymnals.”  My small church roped me into playing piano for Sunday morning services maybe two years ago, and it quickly rekindled an old love of hymns and hymnals.

Hymnals are my favorite items to find in old second-hand shops and antique stores (the latter of which often selling them at an egregious markup).  It’s fun to see which hymns do—and, more importantly, don’t—show up in any given hymnal.  I particularly like slender volumes, the kind that were meant for carrying from service to service or camp meeting to camp meeting, and which tend to possess hymns from the canon, if such a thing exists, of hymnody.

I even recorded and released a very lo-fi EP, The Lo-Fi Hymnal, which consists of crude recordings of my Sunday morning playing.  That short collection also includes a PDF version of today’s TBT feature.

Here is “The Joy of Hymnals“:

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The Future of Cinema

Over the past year or so, I’ve become far more interested in film as an artistic medium.  I’ve always enjoyed going to the movies, but I’m beginning to seek out more interesting and unusual fare, particularly the classics.  One reason I’m watching more films from the 1960s-1990s is because so many flicks these days are full of social justice pandering and parroting of the Leftist bromides du jour.  It’s refreshing watching movies in which people act like people, and not drones from the HR or Diversity Departments.

In The Age of The Virus, we’ve been encouraged to stay home and watch TV—a commentary on our diluted sense of “sacrifice” in the twenty-first-century West.  But that’s had an interesting impact on the cinema, by which I mean movie theaters.  With endless content on streaming services and bigger, cheaper televisions, it seems that the old movie palaces and multiplexes are increasingly obsolete.

Regal Cinemas re-shuttered its theaters across the country after making a go at reopening.  When I went to see The Empire Strikes Back and The New Mutants, there were very few people there, even during prime weekend screening times.  The New Mutants was a full-freight flick, but Empire and other classics were just $5!  Even then there were loads of empty seats—and that wasn’t just because of social distancing requirements.  I asked a manager how he was doing and he said, “Well, at least we’ve got some people here tonight.”  It does not sound good for the future of theaters.

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Movie Review: The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)

After returning from Universal Studios yesterday, I decided to ease back into the week with a couple of flicks.  Hulu isn’t the best of streaming services in terms of content, but lately I’ve uncovered some good older films on the platform, and occasionally I’ll uncover some hidden gems.

To be sure, there’s a good bit of garbage, too, especially this time of year, when the budget horror flicks pop up like weeds.  I watched 1972’s The Last House on the Left last night before catching the subject of this review, and it was a lurid bit of early 70s exploitation.  It didn’t necessarily endorse the violence and depravity it depicted, but it certainly seemed to revel in it.  At its best, it was a morality tale about the dangers of the hippie movement and misguided youthful energy; at its worst, it was an excuse to torture pretty girls on screen.  I’d recommend giving it a pass.

The second film I watched, however, is one I will highly recommend:  1976’s The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane.  It stars a barely-thirteen-year old Jodie Foster in a command performance, along with a young Martin Sheen, who must have been about twenty-six at the time.

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Memorable Monday: Happy Columbus Day!

I’m back from my third trip to Universal Studios this year, and I’m worn out.  Having nonstop fun in the central Florida sun for three days straight really takes it out of me—that, and driving nearly fourteen hours round trip.  I’ll be posting a delayed SubscribeStar post about the trip for subscribers later this evening, after taking a much-needed nap.

Today is Columbus Day, and outside of banks and the postal service, I’m one of the few people who doesn’t have to work today.  I’m thankful for that, and to Columbus for making his historic voyages to the New World.

The attempts of cancel culture to rewrite history have only intensified since I wrote this post one year ago.  The trend is heading into extreme territory, in which we absurdly demand people living four hundred years ago to have had the foresight to think and believe the way we do in 2020.  We pillory them and destroy their statues if they failed to genuflect properly.

The world in 1492 was a brutal place, especially in the New World.  The myth of the “noble savage” was just that—a myth.  The Native Americans were a vastly diverse array of tribes and confederations, often intensely at war with one another.  That doesn’t excuse some of the abuse they did receive at the hands of Europeans and, later, Americans, but it should dispel this notion that white people cruelly destroyed peaceful Earth worshippers.

That it doesn’t is a testament to the strength of progressive indoctrination in our schools.  We don’t name football teams, towns, and military weaponry after Native Americans because they were pagan hippies; we do so because we fought them for hundreds of years and admire their tenacity and warrior-spirit.  It’s the hard-won respect one has for a worthy opponent, even a defeated one.

So, I’ll repeat my call to preserve Columbus Day.  Here is 2019’s “Happy Columbus Day!“:

Today is Columbus Day in the United States, the day that commemorates Columbus’s voyage to the Americas in 1492.  It’s one of the most significant events in human history—as I tell my American History students, “we wouldn’t be here if Columbus hadn’t made his voyages”—yet the social justice, Cultural Marxist revisionist scolds want to do away with the holiday entirely, replacing it instead with “Indigenous People’s Day.”

The thrust of the proposed (or, as is the way with SJWs, demanded) name change is that Columbus was a genocidal, white male meanie who defrauded and murdered peace-loving Native Americans (who had the gall to mislabel Indians!), so instead we should celebrate the contributions of Stone Age cannibals.

Two States—Vermont and Maine (of course they’re in New England, the epicenter of neo-puritanical scolds)—have passed laws renaming the federal holiday to the SJW-approved Indigenous People’s Day.  One Maine mayor, however, refuses to bend, and has declared that in Waterville, Maine, Columbus will be honored.

Mayor Nick Isgro has garnered national attention for his stand to protect Columbus Day from the faddish winds of outrage culture:  “‘The history of mankind is not necessarily a nice one,’ he said. ‘With every great accomplishment, we could probably line up negative consequences as well as positive consequences and that goes across all peoples, all continents, all countries.’”

That’s probably one of the best, brief summaries of a proper historical perspective I’ve read recently:  we can find all sorts of nasty bits about every culture, country, and personality.  But that doesn’t detract from the greatness of their accomplishments.

The revisionists are not incorrect about Columbus:  he did, in his own misguided way, commit what we would now consider atrocities against the Arawaks of the Caribbean.  But it’s foolish to believe that the Native Americans were peaceful, “noble” savages, living in a harmonious state of nature until the evil, exploitative Europeans showed up.  That version of history is a Leftist passion play, which casts history into shades of (literal and metaphorical) black and white—and any white person must possess a black soul.

The peoples of the late fifteenth-century Caribbean were no saints.  To quote from Samuel Eliot Morrison’s Admiral of the Ocean Sea (quotation c/o VDare.com):

The searching party found plentiful evidence of these unpleasant Carib habits which were responsible for a new word—cannibal—in the European languages. In the huts deserted by the warriors, who ungallantly fled, they found large cuts and joints of human flesh, shin bones set aside to make arrows of, caponized Arawak boy captives who were being fattened for the griddle, and girl captives who were mainly used to produce babies, which the Caribs regarded as a particularly toothsome morsel.

Clearly, the Arawaks weren’t polite simpletons (which is how they come across in progressive retellings) snookered by a wicked Italian.  They were fattening up little boys t be eaten, and impregnating young girls to eat their offspring!

I recently wrote about similar Native American atrocities regarding the Aztecs.  The Aztecs’ atrocities are far better understood—the massive, organized human sacrifices, for example—but there’s still this push among modern historians to cast the Spanish conquistadors as the villains.

Naturally, we have to understand these cultures and civilizations in their time and place—but we can do so without condoning their barbarism and cannibalism.  Similarly, if we’re willing to accord some historical wiggle room to baby-eaters, can’t we extend the same generosity to Columbus and the Spanish conquistadors?

Further, as I read the accounts of various Native American practices, I can see why Spanish and subsequent Europeans believed they were doing the Lord’s work to wipe out these practices:  some of them are downright demonic.  It’s fitting that the bloody temples of Tenochtitlan were dismantled and replaced with a Christian cathedral.  The Old Testament is rife with examples of pagan places of worship being destroyed and replaced with altars to Jehovah.

(Of course, if the Spanish were indeed part of God’s Divine judgment on the Aztecs, et. al., Americans should be very worried today, as we continue to participate in mass infanticide.  God is patient, but His patience does not endure forever.)

So, yes, let’s celebrate Columbus on Columbus Day.  I’m glad to be in the New World, and that we don’t line people up to be sacrificed to a sun god every day.

Columbus

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