Showing posts from April, 2005

Gettin' Your Jesus fix with your Saturday Breakfast

I was getting ready to go to work this grey Saturday morning and did some channel surfing in the hopes of finding some good old-fashioned cheesy kid's programming. After flitting through the obligatory infomercials and Pokemon cartoons, I settled on the Trinity Broadcasting Network for said fix. And (bad pun alert!) thank God I did. I'd known about Bibleman , the children's series starring former Eight is Enough/Charles in Charge star Willie Aames, for a few years, but finally got to watch an episode today. The show's a dual knockoff of the '60's Batman series, and The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers . Aames plays the title character, a former millionaire who finds Jesus and decides to become a superhero. Bibleman runs around in plastic body armor and tights (extremely reminiscent of Shaquille O'Neil's superhero garb in that action classic, Steel ), waves a lightsaber, and quotes the bible with monotonous regularity. His sidekicks, Biblegirl and Cypher,

Van Helsing and Vlad: Two Vampire Flicks that Really (ahem) Suck

I love horror movies. They've been a staple of my cinematic diet for literally as long as I can remember. My earliest childhood memory is of sitting on a couch in an apartment, probably not four years old, watching the 1932 Boris Karloff Mummy on TV as my mom, family dog and I ate popcorn. The genre provided my springboard to appreciating film as an artform, and I learned a lot about cinema in general playing Six Degrees of Separation with Horror Movies. So I've invested a lot more thought and love into the genre than your average bear, and (all bias aside) I really know my stuff. One prerequisite of being a devoted horror movie fan is harboring a fondness (or at least a high pain threshold) for crap. From the Republic and PRC Bela Lugosi B flicks of the 40's to the Italian zombie gutmunchers of the '70's and beyond, 90% of horror flicks hover below par, or worse, in quality. Like the weary college kid who tolerates his imbecilic dorm mate, though, a horror fan

The Witch Who Came from the Sea: stoned soul spinster picnic

Unsuccessful seventies movies at least hold a lot more fascination than film failures of most other decades. The Witch Who Came from the Sea , shot in 1971, abortively released in 1976, and lost for years, is one such failure. Film historian and Video Watchdog godfather Tim Lucas contributes liner notes on Subversive Cinema's DVD reissue, trumpeting The Witch as some sort of great lost classic. To be perfectly blunt--it ain't. It is, however, a fascinating window on an era when even ostensibly exploitive movies strove for a patina of artistry. Millie Perkins plays Molly, a spinster approaching middle age who babysits her single-parent sister's kids, waits tables at a local watering hole, and fantasizes about the sculpted musclemen who exercise on the beach near her place. Soon her fantasies about said studs take on a violent turn, with razor-induced death proving the net result. Then real jocks begin turning up in itty bitty pieces. Is it all in her head? Or is the lonely

King Arthur: A Perfectly Decent Assembly-Line Epic

King Arthur hearkens back to Hollywood of a bygone era, and not just in the ways you might initially expect. Sure, it marks the most recent of Hollywood's many visits to the ancient land of Camelot. But more importantly, it's sense of efficiency and its unpretentiousness recall a time when big studios turned out lots of what you might call assembly-line epics; historic action-adventures that aimed lower than the lofty ambitions of a David Lean or Stanley Kubrick, yet still gave audiences a larger-than-life period experience and a popcorn-popping good time. You'd never label them as masterpieces of the form, but assembly-line epics provided good (sometimes great) fun. Richard Fleischer's The Vikings (reviewed in this here Blog in February) fell quite neatly into this category, and King Arthur proves that assembly-line epics can still find financing (if not a gigantic audience) today. The Jerry Bruckheimer-financed King Arthur plants Arthur and his knights into fift

Kung Fu Hustle: Martial Arts, Tex Avery-style

You're probably gonna hear a ton of hype about Kung Fu Hustle , Hong Kong actor/director Stephen Chow's latest film to achieve wide North American release, over the next couple of weeks. Do yourself a favor and don't read or listen to any of it. Just go see it when it opens in wide release on April 22. I'm fighting the urge to give away too many details here myself, because a significant part of the fun of Kung Fu Hustle is how it takes a traditional chop-socky scenario and simultaneously lampoons, celebrates, and transcends the genre. Literally, the less you know going in, the better. As someone who saw it at a preview screening with next to no advance info, I should know. Despite huge success as a comic actor and director in Asia, Stephen Chow has yet to become a household name stateside. Kung Fu Hustle should change that, somethin' fierce. It's that good. Chow's proven himself an adroit comic presence, and a capable director, over the years. Kung Fu H

Sin City: Really good, staggeringly close to great

Sin City , the cinematic adaptation of Frank Miller's celebrated graphic novel, finally hit theaters Friday, April 1, and I got a chance to see it opening night. I'll just get to the point; it's a flawed but absolutely mind-blowing movie experience. This from a decided non-fanboy who's glanced at the source material in a comic store maybe once. At it's heart, Sin City updates a whole arsenal of classic film noir building block characters. There's the aging cop, Hartigan (Bruce Willis), in hot pursuit of a psychotic killer; Marv (Mickey Rourke), the ugly-but-loveable cinderblock of a loser who jumps straight into peril to avenge a martyred blonde; and an extensive gallery of crazies, crooks, corrupt government/authority figures, and hookers with hearts of gold (and cajones of brass). Bad news first; in its attempt to be The Penultimate Film Noir (and a 100% faithful adaptation of the graphic novel), Sin City flirts dangerously close to self-parody. Hard-boile

Passings: Billy, Guitar Wolf Bassist and Jason Evers, Actor

The following two men couldn't have less in common, but their recent departures meant a lot to me, and you're unlikely to see their obituaries in most mainstream sources. I feel compelled to pay respects to both. Hideaki Sekiguchi, AKA Billy, bassist for Petri Dish faves Guitar Wolf, died on the morning of March 20. He was only 38. Anyone who was lucky enough to see the Wolf live on their North American tour a few weeks ago can vouch for the fact that Billy hit the four-string like every note was his last. Like his band mates,Bass Wolf seemed frickin' immortal onstage, a hyperkinetic force of nature that never stopped giving his all, and never stopped having (and sharing) fun with rock and roll. His death is a blow, and a shock. When Guitar Wolf played in 2003, Rita and I wormed our way backstage before the show and met Billy and his bandmates. In contrast to his snarling persona, Billy was quiet, sweet-natured, even downright shy in person. He and his fellow Wolves graci