Extreme Cinema! “Is It Safe?”

Would ya do me a kindness? Don’t slam the fuckin’ door!

So, we usually talk about movie directors on the fringe with their respective peers. The first episode we recorded was about the deceased David A. Prior, low-to-no budget filmmaker, Deadly Prey and The Deadliest Prey. Fred Olen Ray, Mark Goldblatt, Rowdy Herrington. Tonight, we’re talking about an Academy-fuck-Award winner, John Schlesinger. Midnight Cowboy. Billy Liar. Far from the Madding Crowd. Sunday Bloody Sunday, and the four movies we’ll talk about tonight. I think we both agreed on Schlesinger because you put forth Eye for an Eye as a prime example of exploitation film-making. Upon further analysis, we saw a very eclectic, unusual, iconoclastic film-making career. Mr. Schlesinger passed away July, 2003, but his work remains for us to dissect. He truly was a maverick film director, along the lines of a Sam Peckinpah or a Bernard Rose.

We were messaging the other day and you wrote something interesting: “Schlesinger reminds me of another director we’ve always kind of made fun of…a guy with very few (if any) common threads among a varied body of work, with some ‘classics’ under his belt and a bunch of mediocre warmed over, but technically competent other stuff.

Let’s get to know the man, and we’ll start with Marathon Man from 1976.

“Why don’t you just try acting?”

Marathon Man is famous in acting circles for an often quoted and misquoted exchange between Hoffman and Olivier concerning a perceived difference in their approaches to acting. Hoffman later set the record straight in a retrospective interview, explaining:

“When we got back to Los Angeles [Olivier] said, ‘How did your week go, dear boy?’ And I told him we did this scene where the character I was playing was supposed to be up for three days. He says, ‘So what did you do?’ I say, ‘Well I stayed up for three days and three nights.’ And [Olivier’s] famous line was, ‘Why don’t you just try acting?’ … It became kind of legend. It’s been quoted so many times, at least in the acting circles. And the truth is I was the first one to quote that line … They leave out the reality and just put in what feels more provocative or a better story. And what accompanied him saying ‘Why don’t you just try acting?’ … He laughed, because he said, you know, “I’m one to talk.” And then he was actually the first one that told me about risking his life every night jumping whatever it was twenty feet in the last act of Hamlet. And the truth of it is I didn’t just stay up three days and three nights for the scene; it was a good excuse, because these were the days of wine and roses in Studio 54″.
— Hoffman, Dustin (Actor). Marathon Man (DVD).

Moving on to 1996’s Eye for an Eye starring Sally Field, Ed Harris, and Kiefer Sutherland.  Ed Harris and Sally Field were both in Places in the Heart. Nice to see Beverly D’Angelo, who was also in Pacific Heights, directed by Schlesinger. So far, scenes of a bucolic life with twinkly music. I get the feeling this is going to be bad.  This is a bit much. Sally’s daughter is being attacked while on the phone with her mother. We can’t get a good look at the attacker. We have a big panic situation, much like Marathon Man. This is effective but weird. Here we have an ice sculpture killing a woman instead of a coffee machine. They should really outlaw these things!

Written by David Lawler and Andrew La Ganke.
“Love Theme from Extreme Cinema” composed and performed by Alex Saltz.
Introduction written by Bronwyn Knox.
Narrator, “The Voice”: Valerie Sachs.
Artwork by Bronwyn Knox.
Head Title Washer: Ben Lauter.

Running Time: 1:36:46

Any and all images, audio clips, and dialogue extracts are the property of their respective copyright owners. This blog and podcast was created for criticism, research, and is completely nonprofit, and should be considered Fair Use as stated in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. section 107. It is not an official product, and it should not be sold nor bought; this is intended for private use, and any public broadcast is not recommended. All music clips appear under Fair Use as well. If you’re thinking of suing because you want a piece of the pie, please remember, there is no actual pie. We at BlissVille have no money, and as such, cannot compensate you. If anything, we’re doing you a favor, so please be kind. We do this ’cause it’s fun, and nothing else.

 

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Extreme Cinema! “Fu-Man Chews”

Robert Englund makes a cameo as the bus driver in the dream sequence that begins the movie. Christopher Young, an enormously talented film composer, does the score. He did a great score for The Fly II and the Hellraiser movies. I know this because I have several of his scores on tape and compact disc. Mark Patton is the unpopular kid in the schoolbus. Turns out Freddy’s driving. There’s some great visuals here, lots of fun.

So Mark Patton’s having bad dreams. Nice cutaway to the slicing of a tomato, and then a horrible scream that the parents (Hope Lange and Clu Galager, who seem too old to be his parents) ignore. If my daughter screamed like that, me and my wife and every cop in Queens would be in her room in two minutes. Notice the cereal? Fu Man Chews! So Mark’s got a not-girlfriend, Lisa, kinda cute, redhead – reminds me a little of Annette O’ Toole. There’s like 15 different activities going on in the high school sports field. Archery, volleyball, soccer, baseball.

His friend, Robert Rusler, was in Weird Science as Robert Downey Jr.’s friend, the two geeks who torment Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith. He’s a jock-type, probably popular, but he befriends Mark Patton, who seems uneasy in his skin as he dream nightly about the spectre of Fred Kruger.

Three of the four movies we talk about tonight were released (or distributed) by New Line Cinema; A Nightmare on Elm Street 2; Freddy’s Revenge, 12:01. and The Hidden – released in 1987, produced by Bob Shaye, who ran New Line, also produced the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. We have a bank robbery, a high-speed chase – I believe that’s Chris Mulkey as the bank robber – he was also in Jack’s Back as one of the detectives. He’s featured prominently in Jack’s Back, but he only has two words of dialogue, which was weird. Michael Nouri is a cop investigating Mulkey. His partner is the great character actor, Ed O’ Ross. They set up a road-block, with shotguns and everything. The beginning of this movie reminds me of Dead Heat. They riddle Mulkey’s car with bullets. He gets out of the car, battle-scarred, the car explodes.

Next, he’s in the hospital in critical condition. Ed O’ Ross, pissed off as usual tells a doctor Mulkey wreaked all kinds of carnage in two weeks. Clu Galager plays the pissed-off police chief (“cash and dash fuckers!”). Introducing Kyle Machlachlan as an FBI spook, assigned to this case. I’ll wager he’s there to piss off the cops, lots of pissed-off people in the movie. These cops are overworked. This part is a bit of a primer for Kyle, who would go on to play another weird FBI guy in Twin Peaks.
Written by David Lawler and Andrew La Ganke.
“Love Theme from Extreme Cinema” composed and performed by Alex Saltz.
Introduction written by Bronwyn Knox.
Narrator, “The Voice”: Valerie Sachs

Running Time: 1:34:35

Any and all images, audio clips, and dialogue extracts are the property of their respective copyright owners. This blog and podcast was created for criticism, research, and is completely nonprofit, and should be considered Fair Use as stated in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. section 107. It is not an official product, and it should not be sold nor bought; this is intended for private use, and any public broadcast is not recommended. All music clips appear under Fair Use as well. If you’re thinking of suing because you want a piece of the pie, please remember, there is no actual pie. We at BlissVille have no money, and as such, cannot compensate you. If anything, we’re doing you a favor, so please be kind. I do this ’cause it’s fun, and nothing else.

Extreme Cinema! “Mairzy Dotes and Dozy Dotes”

Tonight, we discuss the work of director Rowdy Herrington. Among many other movies, Herrington gave us Patrick Swayze’s seminal Road House, the Citizen Kane of round-house kick movies and “new Saturday night things!” Andrew and I look at Jack’s Back from 1988 and Gladiator from 1992.  It’s our way or the highway … TONIGHT!

Written by David Lawler and Andrew La Ganke.
“Love Theme from Extreme Cinema” composed and performed by Alex Saltz.
Introduction written by Bronwyn Knox.
Narrator, “The Voice”: Valerie Sachs

Running Time: 1:32:47

Any and all images, audio clips, and dialogue extracts are the property of their respective copyright owners. This blog and podcast was created for criticism, research, and is completely nonprofit, and should be considered Fair Use as stated in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. section 107. It is not an official product, and it should not be sold nor bought; this is intended for private use, and any public broadcast is not recommended. All music clips appear under Fair Use as well. If you’re thinking of suing because you want a piece of the pie, please remember, there is no actual pie. We at BlissVille have no money, and as such, cannot compensate you. If anything, we’re doing you a favor, so please be kind. I do this ’cause it’s fun, and nothing else.

Extreme Cinema! “Kill This Guy, Would You?”

Dead Heat is a 1988 American action comedy horror film directed by Mark Goldblatt and starring Treat Williams, Joe Piscopo and Vincent Price. The B movie is about an LAPD police officer who is murdered while attempting to arrest zombies who have been reanimated by the head of Dante Laboratories in order to carry out violent armed robberies, and decides to get revenge with the help of his former partner.

The Punisher is a 1989 Australian-American action film directed by Mark Goldblatt, written by Boaz Yakin, and starring Dolph Lundgren and Louis Gossett, Jr. Based on the Marvel Comics’ character of the same name, the film changes many details of the comic book origin and the main character does not wear the trademark “skull”. Shot in Sydney, Australia, The Punisher co-stars Jeroen Krabbé, Kim Miyori, Nancy Everhard, and Barry Otto.

Written by David Lawler and Andrew La Ganke.
“Love Theme from Extreme Cinema” composed and performed by Alex Saltz.
Introduction written by Bronwyn Knox.
Narrator, “The Voice”: Valerie Sachs

Running Time: 1:30:21

Any and all images, audio clips, and dialogue extracts are the property of their respective copyright owners. This blog and podcast was created for criticism, research, and is completely nonprofit, and should be considered Fair Use as stated in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. section 107. It is not an official product, and it should not be sold nor bought; this is intended for private use, and any public broadcast is not recommended. All music clips appear under Fair Use as well. If you’re thinking of suing because you want a piece of the pie, please remember, there is no actual pie. We at BlissVille have no money, and as such, cannot compensate you. If anything, we’re doing you a favor, so please be kind. I do this ’cause it’s fun, and nothing else.

This podcast is dedicated to the memory of David A. Prior (1955-2015)

Vintage Cable Box: Q: The Winged Serpent, 1982

Vintage-Cable-Box-Cover-Image

“New York is famous for good eating.”

q-the-winged-serpent-movie-poster-1983-1020195479

Q: The Winged Serpent, 1982 (David Carradine), United Film Distribution Company

You can almost hear the surge of John Williams’ famous two-note tone poem, except that instead of swimming the murky depths of the North Atlantic, we’re soaring across the magnificence that is the New York City skyline. We start with a peeping-tom window washer, and his quarry: a temperamental fashion designer, annoyed at the screeching sound of his implements. Before he has an opportunity to get a date with the girl, he loses his head! Literally! Something flies toward him, and we hear a lovely chomping sound effect, and then a scream. This is “Q”, short for Quetzalcoatl, a dragon-like reptilian god, whose soul purpose is to make life interesting for beleaguered New Yorkers already faced with the day-to-day challenges of living in this dilapidated metropolis.

Recovering junkie and small-time criminal Jimmy Quinn (a spirited Michael Moriarty) runs off after a botched jewel store heist, and hides in the rafters of the Chrysler Building. He stumbles upon the nest of this creature, as well as an enormous egg, from which will, no doubt, emerge a baby “Q”. He puts two and two together; reading newspaper accounts of gruesome roof-top attacks, and quickly figures out who (or what) is responsible. No-nonsense cops, David Carradine and Richard Roundtree, are investigating a series of ritual slayings (or skinnings, as the case may be). The skinnings are being executed in service to the Quetzalcoatl. In a scene worthy of Hitchcock, Quinn leads a couple of mobbed-up goons to the rafters (to get their non-existent money), where they are then torn apart by this winged bitch.

While Carradine does his homework, chatting up anthropologists and figuring out how to pronounce Quetzalcoatl: (English pronunciation: /ˌkɛtsɑːlˈkoʊɑːtəl/; Spanish pronunciation: [ketsalˈkoatɬ]), Moriarty, somewhat cleverly, extorts the cops, claiming to know the location of the nest.  He wants a few things in return; a million bucks (tax-free), and an expunged criminal record.  In a brilliant scene in a diner, Carradine and Moriarty face off, with Carradine trying to get Moriarty to spill the location so the cops can keep their money, but Moriarty isn’t falling for it.  What follows is a spectacular shoot-out with the winged creature from the heights of the Chrysler Building.  If only the atrocious visual effects matched writer-director Larry Cohen’s vision.

Cohen’s script (rushed into production with only a day’s notice) is a colorful mosaic of eccentric characterizations (particularly the performance of Moriarty), and lively New York City locales.  Three stories intertwine in haphazard fashion; the junkie, the serpent, and the cult.  In 1982 (and perhaps even now), you would never see a script or a finished movie with such finely drawn characters, such quirky dialogue, Moriarty’s (sometimes annoying) Method approach to Jimmy Quinn, and the high production value of shooting in New York City all in service of what is essentially a modern-day King Kong, a b-movie, or a monster movie.  Q is truly exciting film-making from a master of the genre.

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An incredibly prolific writer and director, Larry Cohen would make Special Effects and Perfect Strangers before producing what many would regard as his masterpiece in The Stuff (1985) also starring Moriarty (kind of an alter-ego for Cohen, appearing in four of his movies).  Before Q, he had written for television (notably Columbo, Branded – which he created, and The Rat Patrol), directed a pair of black exploitation movies, as well as the classic horror movies, It’s Alive and God Told Me To.  Be sure to give my podcast, “Extreme Cinema” a listen as Andrew and I review Cohen’s Q and The Stuff.

Our first cable box was a non-descript metal contraption with a rotary dial and unlimited potential (with no brand name – weird). We flipped it on, and the first thing we noticed was that the reception was crystal-clear; no ghosting, no snow, no fuzzy images. We had the premium package: HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, CNN, The Disney Channel, and the local network affiliates. About $25-$30 a month.  Each week (and sometimes twice a week!), “Vintage Cable Box” explores the wonderful world of premium Cable TV of the early eighties.

Extreme Cinema! “Stop Talking and Start Driving”

EC101

Tonight, we kick off our premiere episode of Extreme Cinema!  Action and Exploitation Movies with Andrew La Ganke & David Lawler with David A. Prior’s action thriller, “Deadly Prey” from 1987, and then we discuss the 2013 sequel, “The Deadliest Prey” starring his brother, Ted Prior.

Written by David Lawler and Andrew La Ganke.
“Love Theme from Extreme Cinema” composed and performed by Alex Saltz.
Introduction written by Bronwyn Knox.
Narrator, “The Voice”: Valerie Sachs

Running Time: 1:32:37

Film Is My Oxygen (interview with Ted Prior and David A. Prior, 2013)

BZ Film (interview with Ted Prior, 2011)

Cinedelphia (interview with Ted Prior, 2013) 

Any and all images, audio clips, and dialogue extracts are the property of their respective copyright owners. This blog and podcast was created for criticism, research, and is completely nonprofit, and should be considered Fair Use as stated in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. section 107. It is not an official product, and it should not be sold nor bought; this is intended for private use, and any public broadcast is not recommended. All music clips appear under Fair Use as well. If you’re thinking of suing because you want a piece of the pie, please remember, there is no actual pie. We at BlissVille have no money, and as such, cannot compensate you. If anything, we’re doing you a favor, so please be kind. I do this ’cause it’s fun, and nothing else.

This episode and this podcast, as a whole, is dedicated to the memory of David A. Prior.
(1955-2015)

NEW PODCAST: “All Outta Bubble Gum”

All-Outta-Bubble-Gum

 

“They Live” is a 1988 American satirical science fiction horror film written and directed by John Carpenter. The film stars Roddy Piper, Keith David and Meg Foster. It follows a nameless drifter (called “John Nada” in the credits), who discovers the ruling class are in fact aliens concealing their appearance and manipulating people to spend money, breed, and accept the status quo with subliminal messages in mass media.

WIKIPEDIA

The first time I saw the movie was on something called the Universal Debut Network; it was a syndicated movie package that Universal Pictures sold to independent networks, I saw it in 1990, it was on Channel 11 here in New York City. The Universal Debut Network was the pre-cursor to all the syndicated series Universal would show, but at first they started with movies like “They Live”, “Prince of Darkness”, “the infamous extended TV version of the movie, “Dune”, where David Lynch took his name off the credits. Apparently Lynch said, “wait a minute, this movie makes sense now, I’m taking my name off the picture!” So after this run of pictures, shows like Hercules and Xena came on the air because they were thinking about putting together a fifth network at the time.

So how do we look on politics, censorship, liberalism, conservative ideology now as opposed to 1988? In Carpenter’s fantasy, these things are just gradual with no tipping point, no rhyme or reason, but I think certain things happened to bring us a “They Live” situation, like 9/11, obviously 9/11 destroyed our country but in a slow, gradual way, like death by a million cuts.

There’s a great line in a sci-fi movie from 1982, “Endangered Species” starring Robert Urich and JoBeth Williams, where Urich says, “If what’s going on around here is organized, you don’t wanna go up against it! The government. The right wing. The left wing. Mercenaries. The mob. It doesn’t make much difference if you get in their way!”

To me, it’s allegory, like all great science fiction. “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” – in the 50s, it was allegory for the Cold War and Communism. In the 1978 version, it was about the “Me” Generation and pop-psychology. In the ’93 remake, it was allegory for disaffected youth and generation X.