Extreme Cinema! “Don’t Use the Same Gun Twice”

Alternate Title: “McNaughton by Nature”

Here we are again, nauseating you with another episode of Extreme Cinema – Action and Exploitation movies with Andrew La Ganke and David Lawler. Tonight, my stars, but we have two movies directed by John McNaughton, Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael and How to Make an American Quilt … just joking, folks, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and The Borrower.

Did you know that this movie, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, still plays in theaters?  A quick check on the Googles reveals the Landmark Sunshine Cinema shows the movie; it’s essentially a midnight movie these days, but it still plays in theaters.  The only other film out there that continues to generate this much of an insane midnight movie cult following is, of course, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants – just kidding.  A few episodes of Extreme Cinema back, I mentioned how this is a movie I could never recommend to anybody for fear of getting funny looks from people for the rest of my life; it’s right up there with The Devil’s Rejects, both of these movies, for me, are insanely well-made but they’re extremely hard to get through (for different reasons).  Movies can be excellent, yet almost unwatchable.  

The Borrower is a bizarre movie. I remember first seeing it, chopped to hell and back on the Sci-Fi channel a while back. I think I even saw it before I saw Henry. My mother actually says to me, “Davey, I saw this movie, it was absolutely disgusting, but it was great! You would love it. It’s called The Borrower.” This was back when she liked horror and science fiction. Along with cable tv, and Danny Peary, and Roger Ebert, and my Aunt Marlene, she got me into movies in a big way. We did Jack Sholder last time, and you described The Hidden as being one of the better Terminator rip-offs. I suppose The Borrower fits into that sub-genre, right? The first thing we see is an alien criminal, who is told by a hilarious-looking creature with a voice modulator that he is being sent to Earth as punishment for his crimes, instead of summary execution (which we’re led to believe is somehow more merciful). We see Tom Towles again, this time as another white trash drifter. Is that a potato gun he’s holding? The alien criminal appears, punches Tom (sends him some 20 feet), and then the alien’s head explodes, which is completely normal. The headless alien removes (or “borrows”, as the case may be) Tom’s head and puts it on his shoulders.

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. W do this ’cause it’s fun, and nothing else.

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Vintage Cable Box: “Author! Author!, 1982”

New VCB Logo

“Don’t you ever, ever, ever tell me I look good for my age again!”

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Author! Author!, 1982 (Al Pacino), 20th Century Fox

Johnny Mandel’s appropriately cheesy music informs us we are about to spend an hour and forty minutes with a sensitive, high-strung, and passionate man. Ivan Travalian is your typical, over-educated New York lunatic, who also happens to be a marginally successful playwright with a Brady Bunch-sized family of children from a previous marriage to estranged wife Tuesday Weld. Lucky for him, he likes his wayward adopted family, and they love him. Depressed and anxious though he is, he tries to do what’s best for the extended family, struggling to get his play produced (to his specifications) while courting his leading lady Alice (Dyan Cannon).

A few days ago, I put up my review for Deathtrap, another movie about a playwright, also made in 1982, and also starring Cannon. Several movies were made about writers in this time period. Perhaps their work was more intriguing in the early eighties than it is now. This may be the last time we are witness to an Al Pacino who had not yet become the gregarious, overpowering, over-the-top actor most audiences are familiar with today. He would follow up Author! Author! with Scarface the following year.

The script is an uncomfortable balance of humor and drama, because of Ivan’s tense, charged relationship with his wife. Pacino’s reptilian eyes never seem to blink, and when they do, you miss it. He stares everybody down, and he is truly frightening when he is angry. His life falls apart when he suspects his wife of cheating on him. The performances in the movie, though eccentric and varied in intensity, never feel less than geniune. Watching it, you feel you know these people. Pacino has incredible chemistry with the young actors who make up his “family”. Ivan has unusually frank discussions with the kids about his life, his paranoia, his assorted neuroses, and his depression.

Ivan and his agent (played by a burly, bearded Alan King) convince Alice to take a part in his play. In the midst of rehearsals for his new play, English With Tears, Ivan’s family suffers upheavals. There was never a more beloved stepfather, as all the children don’t want to be broken up and dispersed to other, newer families. They would rather stay together, and it is touching to see one of Ivan’s stepdaughters add up the number of fathers, mothers, grandfathers, and grandmothers she has because of her mother’s romances. He hooks up with Dyan Cannon at the insistence of his son, who encourages him to find happiness. Soon, she moves into his already-cramped townhouse. Tuesday comes home and flips when she discovers the new living arrangement, even though she’s there to tell him she’s moved on with her life, despite his plea for her to return.

With Author! Author!, we have rich, complex characters that lead unusual inner lives. Pacino repeatedly forgets (or refuses to remember) other people’s names. His children know way too much about his sexual life. Tuesday Weld’s character is a mass of emotional contradictions. Dyan Cannon appears to be the most stable character of them all, despite her emotional unavailability. Ivan is a fascinating person, owning up to his responsibilities as a provider for his family, but also exhibiting arrested behavior; he is not the weary man-child audiences have been subjected to for the last 10 years in cinema.

This is a much better film than the critics of the time would have you believe. Evidently confused as to the characters and their manic moods and motivations, Roger Ebert, in his review, writes that it isn’t necessary for Pacino’s character to be a playwright, but I think he misses the point. Author! Author! is old-fashioned melodrama and theatricality; even extending to a scene where Pacino absconds with his kids and hides his two runaway stepdaughters on the roof of his house. Above all the histrionics, the tirades, and the bittersweet machinations of the script, we never forget that this is a story about a typical, over-educated New York lunatic who loves his children.

Special thanks to my beautiful, brilliant wife for suggesting this title to me.

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.

“We Are The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of”

TheSaintsof35th-The-Stuff-Dreams-Are-Made-Of

 

This is the second part of my wonderful, entertaining discussion with Stevie T from The Saints of 35th Street, in which we discuss music, our creative impulses, and the New York Mets.

This is from the web-site – saintsof35thstreet.com – check it out.

The Saints of 35th Street started out as four guys from Queens, NY who wanted to be professional musicians. They failed.

Originally formed in 2000 by founding members Stevie T, Ant Raneri, Bluto Fristachi, and Jimmy Doom, the band quickly gelled and hit the studio that fall to record their debut album “A Breath Away From My Last”. The album received little critical acclaim, and even less audience acclaim.

Internal tensions were exacerbated by Joe’s impending enrollment in the police academy and Tom pursuing a career teaching mentally retarded children. Despite these facts, the team decided to hit the studio in 2002 to lay down their follow up EP, “Learning to Let Go”. By the time they left the studio, the lineup had officially dissolved.

Soon divorced and destitute, Steve took up songwriting again in 2009 and looked to form another band. Calling on friends Matt Castellano and Rinaldo Morelli, as well as long-time partner Jimmy Doom, the group would assemble in the familiar confines of Astoria, Queens to rehearse. They took the name “Stevie T and the Italians” and played three unremarkable shows. With the band members understanding there wasn’t much promise in their endeavors, they just slowly stopped coming to practice.

Later that year, Steve would meet and befriend Pete Hogan, who recognized Steve from YouTube videos he saw of him playing guitar in his pajamas. The two would frequently collaborate musically together, as Steve penned an album’s worth of new material.

Reclaiming the moniker “the Saints of 35th Street”, the two soon looked to fill out the rest of the roster. Steve called on old pals Matt, Rinaldo, and Jimmy to flesh out the lineup and work on material for the release. Steve and Pete, however, found traveling 20 minutes to Queens in order to practice to be a “hassle”, and opted to strike out on their own. They would soon book time at Treehouse Sound in Jersey City, NJ to move forward with recording in the summer of 2014.

Music intro:
Song: Bad Dreams
Artist: The Saints of 35th Street

Music outro:
Song: Home
Artist: The Saints of 35th Street

Buy these records at CD Baby!

“Sorry For The Mess”

TheSaintsof35th-SorryfortheMess

 

This is a special encore episode of BlissVille, Misadventures In BlissVille commemorating the 2015 New York Mets and their Division Series win against the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Tonight, game 1 of the National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs begins.  On April 6th (opening day), earlier this year, Stevie came by and we discussed, among other things, the Mets’ chances for the season. 

This is BlissVille, Misadventures in BlissVille, and it is my pleasure and honor to welcome Stevie T from The Saints of 35th Street to the program. Stevie was in my documentary, “American Punk NYPP” from 2005, recommended and suggested by Jonnie Whoa Oh, and I remember – I’ll never forget. I was listening to the record and I say to Jonnie – “this guy can sing, what the fuck?” and he’s like, “Oh yeah, Stevie can sing like mo-fo!” I was thinking that should be like a title blurb on the record, like on the cover – Stevie sings like a mo-fo!

So, today we crack open a couple Colt 45 forties on Billy Dee Williams’ birthday and discuss his recent release, Sorry For The Mess, “American Punk NYPP”, and Al Pacino. This discussion is so great, I had to cut it in half. The second part will air next week. Enjoy!

“Sorry For The Mess”

TheSaintsof35th-SorryfortheMess

This is BlissVille, Misadventures in BlissVille, and it is my pleasure and honor to welcome Stevie T from The Saints of 35th Street to the program. Stevie was in my documentary, “American Punk NYPP” from 2005, recommended and suggested by Jonnie Whoa Oh, and I remember – I’ll never forget. I was listening to the record and I say to Jonnie – “this guy can sing, what the fuck?” and he’s like, “Oh yeah, Stevie can sing like mo-fo!” I was thinking that should be like a title blurb on the record, like on the cover – Stevie sings like a mo-fo!

So, today we crack open a couple Colt 45 forties on Billy Dee Williams’ birthday and discuss his recent release, Sorry For The Mess, “American Punk NYPP”, and Al Pacino.  This discussion is so great, I had to cut it in half.  The second part will air next week.  Enjoy!

Music intro:
Song: Sorry For The Mess
Artist: The Saints of 35th Street

Music outro:
Song: Don’t Tell Lenny
Artist: The Saints of 35th Street

Visit The Saints of 35th Street Official Site

Buy these records at CD Baby!