It’s a late Lazy Sunday today. A very long homecoming weekend at school, followed by a Saturday spent at the South Carolina State Fair and a University of South Carolina football game, has me behind on the blog a bit. As soon as I churn this post out, it’s straight to writing comments for report cards. So much for a day of rest.
But I digress. For the first time since Lazy Sunday CXXV, I’m back with more movie review retrospectives. It’s fun (for me, at least) to go back through these movie reviews; I’ve written so many of them, I’ve started forgetting which movies I’ve reviewed!
This week we pick up where we left off ten Sundays ago with another three flicks:
“Monday Morning Movie Review: Aniara (2018)” – I really enjoyed this movie—bleak though it is—about a space cruise ship getting thrown off course irreversibly. It’s one of the more thought-provoking films I’ve seen in the past year, and it’s stuck with me. It’s one of the movie reviews I’ve written that I have not forgotten.
“Monday Morning Movie Review: Willy’s Wonderland (2021)” – Compared to Aniara, Willy’s Wonderland is quite lighthearted. If you like Nicolas Cage—and I definitely do—you’ll enjoy this movie. Unusually for Cage, though, his character doesn’t say anything, but he still manages to bring his trademark insane fury to the character, who spends a night fighting demon-possessed animatronics in an abandoned pizzeria.
“Monday Morning Movie Review: Robot & Frank (2012)” – This flick ad the feel of an indie flick, with its quirky premise and craftily heartwarming story arc. I love stuff with robots, and this movie delivers it in an interesting way: an aging thief trains his robot nurse to help him plot a jewel heist.
That’s it for this week’s belated Lazy Sunday. Enjoy the rest of this quiet day!
Today’s Monday Morning Movie Review will be a bit delayed. It was a long drive back from Georgia, and with preparations for the week, I did not have time or energy to craft a compelling movie review.
I’ll also be getting caught up on this weekend’s SubscribeStar Saturday, thought it likely won’t be until midweek.
The tempo of work, lessons, and other obligations have made it difficult to keep up with the blog this weekend, and this week is looking to be a doozy. Rest assured, though, that I’ll get back into the regular schedule as soon as possible.
I’m a big sucker—pun most certainly intended—for vampire movies. I’ve always enjoyed the vampire mythos, and find them to be terrifyingly fascinating villains (or anti-heroes). The concept of immortality in a fallen, ever-changing world is itself a haunting prospect, one filled both with opportunity and, ultimately, hopelessness.
I also love science-fiction movies, notably those that take place in space. The sense of boundless adventure and the thrill of exploration combine with high-tech gobbledygook to make for some fun stories. Sci-fi, like horror, also has the ability to be among the best social commentary put to paper.
With 1985’s Lifeforce, those two genres are combined in a pleasing, memorable way. Indeed, the film is based on a novel called The Space Vampires, which gives the game away on the front cover. The vampires of the film and the novel are energy vampires, sucking the lifeforce from their victims, luring them in by shapeshifting into the guise of what the human victim most desires in a mate. In doing so, they turn their victims in ravenous husks who must feed on the energy of others to survive. If they don’t, they explode into a puff of dust and ash.
The weather here in South Carolina has turned blissfully autumnal, which means we can finally partake in all manner of outdoor activities without dying of heat exposure and dehydration. The humidity has calmed itself to a bearable level, and the mornings and nights are crisp and cool.
One of my enterprising neighbors—and most dogged constituents—took advantage of the cool weather this weekend to test out an inflatable projector screen. He invited me to join his family for a private, driveway screening of the original 1977 Star Wars, later entitled Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. Specifically, he screened the “de-specialized” version, as he called it, so there was none of the clunky 1990s CGI additions of the special editions.
In other words, it’s the way Star Wars was intended… before George Lucas changed his mind and decided to change his own films.
Shudder continues to deliver up the bizarre and unusual, proving it’s well worth the price of admission for the streaming service. This last week saw the service bring the 1985 film The Stuff to the service.
It’s an unusual horror flick that combines elements of consumer protection advocacy, mass media advertising, consumerism, ruthless business tactics, and addiction into a blob of creamy terror.
Indeed, the film is something like The Blob (1958) and Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) rolled into one: a greedy corporation knowingly sells a dangerous product, which turns out to be a goopy white organism that entire consumes the very people consuming it.
So, essentially, the entire flick is a metaphor for consumerism and corporate greed run amok.
Apparently, the 1960s were a bit wild for the Soviets, too, as the Russkies allowed the release of Viy (1967), a Soviet-era horror flick, the first of its kinds to enjoy an official release in the USSR. Shudder is currently streaming the film, and it’s worth your time to check it out, both for the novelty of watching a Soviet horror flick, but also because it’s a fun, surprisingly frightening film.
I am a great lover of vampire movies and stories, and am always interested to see how filmmakers and storytellers approach the well-worn vampire mythology. Every vampire story must take time to establish the “rules” of that particular vampiric universe, so the (sub?)genre lends itself to world-building. Some vampires can survive in sunlight, though uncomfortably; others can endure limited exposure; still others burst instantly into flames. Some vampires fear the sign of the Cross; others laugh at it mockingly; still others fear the faith in what the symbol represents, but the symbol is rendered powerless without that faith.
Vampire stories also offer the opportunity to explore interesting themes. Immortality is a common one: what happens when you have forever to live on Earth? Anne Rice’s novel Interview with the Vampire (1976) explores that idea in great detail, specifically the ennui and nihilism that come with earthly eternal “life.” The initial thrill of vampiric power and endless nights of bloody reverie gradually turn to centuries of self-indulgent, murderous moping, as the vampire passively watches the world he loved transform around him into something unrecognizable.
This month, Shudder released a new exclusive, Jakob’s Wife (2021), a feminist-inflected vampire story starring 80s scream queen Barbara Crampton. While the feminist themes were a bit heavy-handed at points, the film handled the subject matter with a surprising degree of nuance. Suffice it to say that, like tell-tale two-pronged mark of the vampire’s bite, this film has stuck with me.
Binge-watching The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs has introduced me to some obscure and forgotten flicks. Several of the films the freedom-loving Texan screens are deservedly forgotten, and even hard to watch, with only Joe Bob’s off-the-cuff rants and film history knowledge keeping me going. Others, however, are real gems—rough-cut and a little sooty, but gems nonetheless.
One such film is Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988), a post-apocalyptic sci-fi action-comedy starring wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. Piper is better known for his role in They Live (1988), the John Carpenter classic in which Piper’s character discovers a pair of sunglasses that show the world for how it truly is. They Live—with its infamous six-minute fistfight—is the better film, but Hell Comes to Frogtown is really delightful.