Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Quest For Fire, Bye Bye Brazil

Day two of the weekend movie marathon included another horror movie, a movie I couldn't stand, and a movie that was probably picked by my mother.

I think this was a first-time viewing of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but am not quite sure...I can say that the movie didn't give me nightmares, or freak the shit out of me, but I was impressed by it. Its low-budget gives it an all-around creepy feeling, and that house really looks like a crazy-ass place you might actually stumble upon after taking a wrong-turn in Texas.

It didn't leave quite the impression on me that Halloween did, but that's probably because there aren't any really developed characters in it. There's no Laurie Strode to root for. But it still remains one of the best horror movies ever.

Quest for Fire was a big snore as far as I was concerned; I just thought a whole movie in which people grunted was a waste of time. As it is, I think the only thing I remember about it is the cave-people-getting-it-on moments. Of course.

Which brings us to Bye Bye Brazil, which I'm pretty sure I slept through most of. My loss?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Targets, The Night Andy Came Home, Swamp Thing (2)

In what what must have been a weekend of non-stop movie watching, horror movies were the choice for Saturday, November 20th.

I've written about Swamp Thing already, and once again, the fact that this was on VHS for rental within the same year it was released in theaters debunks my theory that movies took a lot longer to reach the rental market back in the day. What is NOT debunked, however, is how insanely expensive it was to actually BUY movies back then, with tapes going for something like 80 bucks on average. Nuts!

The night's other two films, Targets and The Night Andy Came Home are two low budget horror movies, although one is probably better known than the other.

That one is Targets, which was Peter Bogdanovich's first movie, and an effective little thriller loosely based on the Charles Whitman shootings at the University of Texas.

The scariest thing about the movie? It is still totally relevant today...

The other movie, The Night Andy Came Home, AKA Deathdream, AKA Dead of Night, was written by Alan Ormsby, who also wrote Cat People, which is probably why I chose to watch it. It was directed by Bob Clark, the man behind A Christmas Story--and another classic Christmas movie, Black Christmas--and is based on the old story "The Monkey's Paw." In this one, parents of a son killed in Vietnam wish him back to life, but of course, that kind of thing comes with its drawbacks...

I actually don't really remember much about the movie, aside from it having a kind of spooky soundtrack, but I think it was my first introduction to the "Monkey's Paw" story, and I certainly noticed the parallels about a year later, when reading Stephen King's Pet Semetary....

Saturday, November 10, 2012


While it has absolutely nothing to do with the holidays, for years, and even to this day, I think of Creepshow as a holiday movie, simply because it came out at the end of 1982, and I would end up watching it during Christmas breaks for several years after.

Creepshow is also one of those movies I have a distinct memory of seeing, and yet, the date seems weird.  If we did see it on November 10th, that was a Wednesday, which means we went on a school night. Which wasn't unheard of, but still seems odd.

But I definitely remember what theater it was at: the Serra, which was just off 280, before Serramonte. It was a great single-screen theater, but had a notoriously dim projector bulb, which was a bit of a problem when it came to horror movies.

Since the movie is five stories in one, (six, if you count the surrounding story of the kid and the comic book), of course some segments are going to better than others. I think my favorite is probably "The Crate," owing a lot to Adrienne Barbeau's brilliantly obnoxious Wilma--sorry, "Billie"--a woman just screaming to be eaten by a crate monster.

I also really like "Something to Tide You Over," which features Leslie Nielsen as a very affective bad guy. If you haven't seen the movie, maybe don't watch this clip, as it's the end of the segment. But I think it really illustrates what a beautiful horror movie Creepshow is, with its use of bright colors, emulating comic book panels and comic coloring.

Even the weaker stories, like "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill," have their moments, even if Stephen King's bad acting almost ruins it.

Yep, Creepshow is a movie I grew to love even more as an adult, and one I could watch over and over again, and never grow tired of.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Eating Raoul

I think I had a pretty sophisticated sense of humor for a twelve-year-old, but I think even the most worldly of pre-teens would have a problem with the movie Eating Raoul.

So why would I (or my parents, more specifically) decide to go see it? The fact that Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov were its stars and creators, and were both in Rock n Roll High School, which I loved, was probably the biggest contributing factor. So, we went to go see it at the Bridge theater at the beginning of November.

Alas, their presence didn't help me like the movie, which is kind of a like an even weirder version of Sweeney Todd: Woronov and Bartel play a prudish couple who wants to open a restaurant but can't raise the money. They start to lure "swingers," (the sex variety, not the 1990's Vince Vaughn variety) to their apartment to kill them and steal their money. It gets considerably more ridiculous than that, and is filled with a lot of black humor, and low budget filmmaking.

Because it left such a bad impression on me back then, I never really bothered to watch it again as an adult. I wouldn't waste a rental on it now, but if it ever pops up on cable, I might give it one last try...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Cat People was my introduction to Nastassja Kinski, so I had not yet seen 1979's Tess at this point in 1982. So when it came to the York Theater, I was all over it.

Now, there's no doubt she fits the role as far as looks is concerned; she's just stunningly beautiful in it. But I think she got some criticism for her performance. Personally, I think she's fine, and I find her attempts at a Wessex accent kind of charming. But I can totally seeing sticklers taking issue with it...

After seeing the movie, I read the book, and quite liked it. I think it benefited me to have seen the movie first, as it made the book easier to follow, and the language a little less impenetrable. About a year later in school, we started reading books by Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, and others, mainly Victorian novels, or a little earlier. But I stuck with Thomas Hardy, and to this day, prefer Tess to anything by Jane Austen.

I also had this Tess poster on my wall for years, never really considering a poster with the word "rape" on it might not have been the best thing to really draw the boys to me....

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Halloween III: Season of the Witch

If it seems like a long time between posts, it has been. I will admit I skipped one day (October 3rd, and a third viewing of E.T., mainly because I just couldn't remember where I saw it), but really it's because, apparently, I didn't see anything between October 3rd and October 23rd in 1982. Which seems weird! I don't know what was going on in my life back then that I wasn't finding any time for movies, but apparently, there was a lot.

But the release of a new Halloween movie was what got me to the movies once again, on the opening night of Halloween III: Season of the Witch.

Whiiiiiiich, was a huge flop. The concept: to bank on the Halloween movie brand name, and release a new Halloween-themed movie every year that had nothing to do with the previous Halloween movies was, in hindsight, pretty dumb. All they managed to do was piss off people who were thinking they were going to see Michael Myers's return, and didn't, and also piss off people who knew it wasn't a "real" sequel by releasing a movie that was...kinda dumb.

Looking back on it now, I can kind of appreciate it because it's so preposterous. It's basically the story of mad scientist who hates kids and wants to melt their heads. And somehow, Stonehenge is involved. What's not to like?

If it were just that, with no ties to the Halloween franchise it...well, it probably would have still been a flop. But it was just plain doomed with that marketing behind it.

I saw it at the Alhambra, and I am not sure if both of my parents came with or not. I remember the theater was pretty packed--a sold-out crowd of disappointment!

And despite thinking it was kind of dumb, I still bought one of the tie-in masks featured in the movie. It was insanely cheap for something that was actually pretty high quality, glowed in the dark, and I wore it on more than one Halloween. To wit:

In fact, I still have it, and every Halloween, I put it on and watch this:

Still have my head, too. SO FAR.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Page Three: Nearing the End

I give you, the third--and final!--page of entries for 1982, as seen in my Movie Ledger Book!

As you may have noticed, it's not ACTUALLY September 18th when I am putting up this entry. But I got this thing called a "job," and it's eating into my blogging time immensely. I'm still planning on making it to the end of this here thing, but there's going to be a lot of fudging of dates as I work through the remaining movies.

But it WILL happen, and before the end of the year--mark my words!

Which reminds me, I can't BELIEVE it's been almost a year since I started this thing! How did that happen?

Cannery Row and Body Heat (3)

(Let's pretend it's actually September 18th, OK?)

A third viewing of Body Heat went hand-in-hand with a first-time viewing of Cannery Row, and I am assuming it was on VHS.

Cannery Row is a great little movie that was mired in some scandal back in the day because it was originally supposed to star Raquel Welch. She was fired and replaced with Debra Winger. Producers claimed Welch was in breach of contract because of something involving make-up (?), but there were rumors that she was fired because they felt she was too old for the part. She sued and eventually won.

Frankly, I can't imagine Welch in the role because Debra Winger is almost perfect, and it's a shame the movie was a flop. It's loosely based on the books Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck, and that connection made me love the movie even more since my parents and I would often vacation in Monterey, traipsing the same streets as Doc and his pals.

What makes the movie so good is its sense of humor, complete with narration by John Houston, and a gang of bums headed up by M. Emmet Walsh. I highly recommend a watch. It's available as a rental on Netflix and Amazon, and shows up sometimes on TCM.

Here's one of my favorite scenes.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pink Floyd - The Wall

When I saw Pink Floyd - The Wall in 1982, I had never listened to the entire album. Of course, I had heard "Another Brick In the Wall, Part 2" (the "we don't need no education" song) on the radio many times, as well as some other songs, but I wasn't a die hard fan of the record, and really had no idea what I was getting into.

I saw the movie with my parents at a sneak preview screening at the Alexandria Theater. It was a school night, and I remember bragging to a few people the next day that I had already seen the movie, which is kind of funny because I really didn't like the movie. I think I probably left that part out.

But having seen it, I wanted to hear the original album, so my father borrowed a friend's vinyl copy, and taped it for me. I would end up listening to that tape hundreds of times throughout junior high.

It might seem odd that I became so enamored of the record, but never warmed up to the movie. Here's the thing: The movie is full of pampered rock star angst; aggressively English memories; scenes of World War II fighting; fears of fascism; Oedipal mother issues. As a twelve year-old girl, I couldn't relate to any of that.

But when I was just listening to the music, I could recognize the universality of it. I hated school, too! Sometimes I wanted to be "comfortably numb," too! I felt like there was a wall around me sometimes, too!

The literalness of the movie still bugs the hell out of me, as does its unrelenting bleakness. Even the ending, which I think is supposed to be hopeful, is just...dreary. There's no scene or moment in it that I have ever wanted to see again.

But I guess I can thank the movie for being an official introduction to the album. I'm pretty sure I would have caught up with it eventually had I not seen the movie, because a few of my friends were pretty obsessed with it, and it was on constant rotation wherever we were. But I probably wouldn't have liked the record as much if I had liked the movie more.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Poltergeist (6)

This marks the last time I would see Poltergeist in the year 1982. Of course, it wasn't the last time I'd see it. Oh no. I'd see it many more times over the years.

This viewing was at the Regency III, and I highly doubt it was on a Friday. Most likely it was a Saturday matinee...

I don't really have much else to say about the movie. Its appeal to my younger self will always be a bit of a mystery. And while I had seen plenty of horror movies at this point in my young life, I imagine there was something appealing about one that was so obviously aimed at (and appropriate for) a younger audience.

So, as I embark on a new job that centers around television watching, I think it only fitting that I end this post with the following clips.

TV people indeed!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Friday the 13th Part 3 in 3D

I'm going to combine posts here, because I find it really funny that not only did I see Friday the 13th Part 3 In 3D by myself, and hated it, but I then went and saw it AGAIN a week later!

It was showing at the Alhambra Theater, which was a single bus ride away, and I guess school was still out, so I went  by myself on a weekday. (And they let me in--twice!--unlike those law-abiding assholes at the Regency 2. Because it's totally fine for a 12-year-old to see a masked killer eviscerate someone in 3D. But sex? And nudity? HEAVEN FORFEND!)

I didn't like the movie because, well, it's dumb. All the Friday the 13th movies are just dumb body counts, and even at 12, I knew a good slasher movie (Halloween) from a bad rip-off (this).

But goddammit, it was also kind of fun! To this day, I loathe 3D, and only enjoy it when it's used in the most cheesy of ways, with objects being thrown at my face. And Friday the 13th 3D is full of that. Knives, pitchforks, eyeballs, machetes. It's all in there, and aimed straight at your head.

Basically, it was like a totally stupid carnival ride that I couldn't wait to ride again...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cat People (4) and Pretty Baby

Once again, playing catch-up with my blogging duties...

So, on August 26th--or thereabouts, because that was a Thursday, and I have doubts about me watching two movies on a school night, although I really don't know if school started before or after Labor Day back then, so maybe it is the right date--I watched two movies that feature naked girls in New Orleans.

This had to have been on VHS. And rentals. The first was, of course, Cat People, which I never actually bought on VHS, but I think I did illegally copy a VHS tape of it, so I could watch it another 25 times (or thereabouts) in the coming years.

The other film was Pretty Baby, which I had also seen a few times before.

I love Pretty Baby, but I understand it's...problematic. It's definitely not something that could be made today--at least not without very loud protest and boycott--and perhaps that's a good thing.

But it is a good movie, and that's kind of what makes it so problematic. If it were just an exploitation piece about child prostitution, that would be one thing. But it's a serious movie, directed by Louis Malle, and starring some pretty impressive actors, (Susan Sarandon and Keith Carradine, among others), and somehow that makes it even more problematic.

Of course it also stars a very young Brooke Shields, and she does play a child prostitute whose virginity is auctioned off, and who falls in love with a much older and slightly creepy man. Which...umm...

The movie itself is not really lascivious as far as scenes with Shields are concerned, although she does appear naked, though not full-frontally so, and she was underage at the time of filming...

But I think the real controversy is not so much with the movie, but with an unfortunate tie-in associated with Playboy magazine. They released a photo book entitled Sugar and Spice that included naked photos of the young Brooke Shields in scenes inspired by the movie. I'm not going to link to it, but a simple Google search will bring them up if you must see them. (The photos really do make me feel VERY uncomfortable.)

So. Yeah. I do love the movie, because I love New Orleans, and the era it's set in, and the music, and most of the acting, (Frances Faye as the aging madam is, frankly, awful, but she's so bad it's almost comedic).

But I'm also kind of glad nothing like it could get made today.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Leopard Man and I Walked With a Zombie

First, let me just say I love how the title of this post is also a sentence.

My love of the 1982 Cat People resulted in a curiosity about the films of Val Lewton and Jacques Tourneur, the men behind the original version of the movie. By this point in 1982, I had already seen the original, 1942 version of Cat People, and liked it. So when two more Lewton films came to the York Theater, I was all over it.

Of the two, I Walked With a Zombie is definitely the better and more entertaining movie. It's loosely-based-on-Jane-Eyre-storyline gives it a nice gothic romantic punch, plus, zombies!

The second movie, despite having the title The Leopard Man, it's not a quasi Cat People sequel, and has nothing to do with any kind of were-people at all. Ultimately, there's nothing supernatural about its story.

The most memorable scene from the movie is near the beginning, when a young woman who is afraid of the dark heads home after a trip to the grocer's. It left an instant impression, and I've never forgotten it...

I found the rest of the movie to be a tad boring, at least in comparison to I Walked With a Zombie (because, duh, zombies), but was definitely glad I saw it. I can thank the 1982 Cat People for introducing me to the Lewton and Tourneur oeuvres, and as I got older, I would appreciate their moody and suggestive approach to horror all the more.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Rock and Roll High School, Neighbors, Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip (2)

Renting movies at Captain Video, and spending the weekend watching them was pretty regular thing in my family. A lot of the time, we'd rent movies we'd seen before, and often more than once. Buying movies on VHS wasn't really feasible since they were priced insanely high back then. I think 80 bucks was often the average price, but maybe I'm exaggerating it in my memory. All I know is we rarely actually bought any movies. We'd just rent them over and over.

On this weekend we re-watched three movies. The first was an all-time fave: Rock N Roll High School.

I'm not sure when I first saw Rock N Roll High School, but I do know at some point I went to see it at the Roxie Theater. Whatever the case, this viewing was probably my fifth or so.

This movie introduced me to the Ramones, and a lifelong love was born. Here's how much I loved them: When I was 16, I had brain surgery, (not a lobotomy, I swear), and a week later I was front row at a Ramones concert at Wolgang's. I might not have loved them quite as much as Riff Randall did, but not much could keep me away from one of their concerts.

And one more personal anecdote about the movie: I took a film studies class taught by one of the movie's screenwriters, and it was one of the worst classes I've ever taken, mainly because that professor was the kind of teacher the kids at Vince Lombardi High would have bound, gagged, and pelted with apple brown betty.

The second movie was Neighbors, a bit of a flop that starred John Belushi and Dan Akroyd.

I know I didn't like it much the first time we saw it, which was in 1981 when it was released, but perhaps my parents liked it, and that's why we chose to watch it again. I'm actually a bit curious to re-watch it now, as I imagine its black humor might have been a tad lost of me at the time. It's not available on DVD from Netflix, but it can be viewed online, so I might give the movie another shot at some point...

Finally, we rewatched Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip, and you can read about my first viewing of that here.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Chariots of Fire

Chariots of Fire took home the Oscar for 1981's Best Picture, beating out Raiders of the Lost Ark, Reds, Atlantic City, and On Golden Pond.

In other words, screw Chariots of Fire.

OK, fine. I understand it's probably an inspirational movie to many. I'm sure it's a fine piece of cinema. But it bored the hell out of me when I was twelve, and I suspect it still would since I'm not a runner, don't really care about the Olympics, and am not an Anglophile.

I have a memory of watching the movie at home, and falling asleep, but apparently that's wrong, because I actually saw it at the York Theater on a Friday. If school had already started at that point, then this was an evening showing. There's no way I didn't fall asleep in that theater.

Of course, there's one thing no one who sees the movie will ever forget, and that's the theme song by Vangelis. For better or worse, it's one of the most memorable--and overly-played--theme songs in the history of movies.

But I'm still not gonna watch the movie again just to hear it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fast Times at Ridgemont High

I think Fast Times At Ridgemont High was the first movie in 1982 that I saw with just my mother. I'm not sure why my dad wasn't there, but I'm pretty sure he wasn't, and it was just me and mom at the Royal Theater that Saturday in August, the day after the movie opened.

That was appropriate because I was with my mother when, about a year earlier, I bought the book the movie is based on. It was at a bookstore on Chestnut Street. Do NOT ask me why I remember that. I just do.

I LOVED the book. I read it many times before seeing the movie, and many times after seeing it, going so far as to underline bits of dialogue that are in both the book and the movie. For reals. Look.

Yes, I've still got my copy, and it's falling apart. But I'm keeping a firm grip on it because it's out of print, and copies go for beaucoup dinero.

In doing some perfunctory research in preparation for this post, I came across this assessment of the book, and have to say, I disagree with it almost completely. She seems to be criticizing it for not being more "journalistic," but then also seems to not like it when Crowe seems to be editorializing at times.

It's pretty obvious the book is not exactly in-depth journalism. It's a series of stories about one very fictionalized high school. (For the record, the real "Ridgemont" is Clairemont High School in San Diego.) And I don't think there's anything wrong with that. It's a young adult book, not a shocking expose on teenagers in the early 1980s.

She also gives short shrift to one of my favorite parts of the book: When the class goes to Grad Nite at Disneyland. Reading that part of the book is what ultimately convinced me to fork over the dough when my own Grad Nite came around. It wasn't as memorable an experience as they have in the book, (there was no hunt for hidden booze on Tom Sawyer Island, for example), and, in fact, I have almost no memory of the night at all. But I do know that a pre-super-famous-Michael Bolton was one of the musical guests. Check it.

OK, I realize I'm talking more about the book (and me) than the movie here, but that's mainly because I think, in the end, the book had way more influence on me than the movie did.

Which isn't to say I didn't love the movie. Of course I did! But since I was such a big fan of the book I couldn't help but be a little dissapointed by what wasn't included in the movie.

Also, some of the casting left a little to be desire. I think at the time, I kind of thought the actor who played Damone, Robert Romanus, was cute. But looking back, he's just all wrong. For one thing, he looks way too old. (Of course, they all kind of were; Phoebe Cates was the only lead who was still a teenager, but just barely, at nineteen.) And for another, he's got an East Coast accent that doesn't really make sense for a movie set in Southern California. In the book, he's from Philadelphia, but there's no mention of him not being a California boy in the movie. (Also, a bit of trivia: Romanus played a high schooler two years earlier in the movie Foxes, which featured Cherie Currie of The Runaways in her first movie role. Many years later, he would play Joan Jett's guitar teacher in the movie The Runaways.)

The actor (Brian Backer) who plays Mark Ratner is also kind of boring, and also seemed way too East Coast. This all may have a lot to do with director Amy Heckerling being from New York, though,

And speaking of Heckerling, bless her, because one of the other things about the movie that bugs is the soundtrack. If you listen to the commentary on the DVD release, she talks about how she was basically forced by producer Irving Azoff to include a bunch of music she hated, like Don Henley, Joe Walsh, and Jackson Brown. She wanted more punk, new wave, and rock and roll, but only succeeded in getting The Go-Go's, Oingo Boingo, and Led Zeppelin in the movie. (The commentary is worth a listen, as it features both Heckerling and Cameron Crowe, and includes some interesting stories about casting, edits, and why "Kashmir" is played on that first date instead of a song from side one of Led Zeppelin IV.)

All that said, I still love it. I rewatched it a few days ago, and had forgotten how short it is. It barely clocks in at 90 minutes. Since some stuff has to be cut out, (nudity, etc.), when it airs on network television, making it even shorter, it's usually aired with some deleted scenes included. You can find all of them if you search "Fast Times at Ridgemont High deleted scenes" on YouTube, but I'm going to include my faves below.

Spicoli talks about partying with Mick Jagger:

Brad gives the guidance counselor a piece of his mind:

And what is probably the most controversial cut: Stacy in the abortion clinic. I wonder if this is something they'd still include in TV airings?

Finally, do you remember the really awful TV spin-off that lasted just a few episodes? You can watch that trainwreck here.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Road Warrior

I saw The Road Warrior for the second time at the York Theater, apparently on a Thursday. I guess school hadn't started yet, because it seems like I was going to a lot of movies this week.

You can read my first post about Warrior here. And you can enjoy the movie's first big car sequence below.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

E.T. ²

As I said in my first post about E.T., I'm not entirely sure if I saw the movie at the Grand Lake on my first or second viewing, though I'm pretty sure it was the first. Which would mean this second viewing took place at the Regency I.

I haven't gotten around to re-watching it yet because I don't actually own a copy of it, it isn't available to watch instantly, and I'm afraid the version I'll get from Netflix will be the version that Spielberg fussed with, removing guns etc. But I'll get around to it, if only to see Drew Barrymore, who is one of my favorite things about the movie. "I taught him how to talk now, he can talk now.":

Here are a few more items from my Genre Book:

Rex Reed's write-up, as it ran in the Chronicle:

And a couple of newspaper ads:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid ²

I don't have much to say about Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid that I didn't say in my first entry about the movie. This second viewing took place at the York Theater, and I'd end up watching the movie many more times on cable. In fact, I'm pretty sure the TV version had a few scenes that weren't in the original theatrical release, although those don't seem to be viewable online anywhere.

Here's what the newspaper ads looked like, with the tag line "The people who brought you The Jerk try to make it up to you!"

And here's a compilation of funny moments from the movie.

Monday, August 6, 2012

An Officer and a Gentleman

An Officer and a Gentleman is definitely an R-rated movie. There's not a lot of nudity, but there's sex, and some emotionally realistic sex at that.

I've already talked about my youthful love for Richard Gere, so there was no way I wasn't going to be seeing this one. And we only waited about a week after it opened to go see it on a weekend at the Regency II.

And by "we," I mean me and my parents. But that's not the interesting story. The interesting story is when some neighborhood friends and I attempted to go see it again about a week later.

It was still playing at the Regency II, and as I've said before, the Regency II was always nicer than the Regency I, both in terms of the theater itself, and the staff. And I suppose I shouldn't fault a theater for sticking to the law, and making sure no minors were allowed in the theater without a guardian. But I had been going to R-rated movies alone for so long, I just wasn't used to getting carded. In fact, I was insulted!

And, indeed, the ticket seller wouldn't sell me and my friends tickets, and we weren't exactly gracious in the face of that. But we also weren't going to give up on our chance to see some age-inappropriate cinema that day!

So, we waited outside the theater until we saw a woman who was going in alone, and we asked her if she would pretend to be our aunt, and go in with us and get tickets. It was the cinematic equivalent of asking someone to buy us beer.

OK. I guess we weren't very bright, or we were just blinded by Richard Gere lust, because why we thought the ticket agent would just suddenly forget the belligerent girls who tried to get in five minutes ago, and buy the whole "aunt" thing, I don't know. And, indeed they didn't buy it, and made us leave. Again. But not before I indignantly yelled, "Oh yeah?! Well, I'VE ALREADY SEEN IT!"

Yeah. I showed them!

As for the movie itself, well, aside from its sexual frankness, it really is, at heart, an old-fashioned love story. It's so old-fashioned that my grandfather went to see it, and loved it. In fact, a lot of people went to see it, and it was the third highest grossing picture of 1982, which, when you consider all the other now-classic movies that came out that year, is pretty remarkable.

Below is a clip of the film's ending but, if you haven't seen the movie, you probably shouldn't watch the clip. (Although even if you haven't seen the movie, you probably already know how it ends, after years of movie and TV references and parodies.)

I'm including it because for years I was convinced that when Debra Winger kisses Richard Gere, she takes the ear plugs out of her ears, and sticks them in his mouth.

Now, I am assuming she drops them before she sticks her fingers in his mouth, but it's the whole sticking-her-fingers-in-his-mouth thing that makes it suspect to begin with. What's that about?

Or have I been kissing wrong all this time?!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Raiders of the Lost Ark ² and The Thing ²

I originally saw Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981, at the Century Cinema in Corte Madera. (I'm not sure if it was called something else back then or not, but it was and still remains a large single-screen theater. I haven't been back in years, but at the time they had an annoying tendency to use projector bulbs that were too dim, and the theater didn't have any middle aisles, which was always a little disconcerting.)

I waited a long time to see Raiders, because for some reason I was of the belief that it was about archeology and was therefore just some dumb movie about old stuff. What a difference a year can make, right? In 1981, I was definitely a movie fan, but I wasn't someone who knew a lot about movies. Eventually, I'd be buying Fangoria, and Cinefantastique, and reading my dad's Film Comments. But I guess in 1981, I was still judging movies by their posters and subject matter, and Raiders just didn't seem that interesting to me.

I think it was a friend's fanaticism for the movie that finally convinced me it was something to see. And see it again I did on August 5th, 1982,  at the Alhambra Theater on a double-bill with The Thing. Two movies, two second viewings.

I wish I could remember if I went with my friends, or alone, (probably the latter), but I'm pretty much drawing a blank on the whole experience!

I've written about the Indiana Jones movies on my other blog, so please go and check that out. And I'll leave you with an interesting video that shows the opening of Raiders side-by-side with scenes from 30 earlier adventure films.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Union City

While I was a good girl and got a bunch of posts ready for automated publication while I was on vacation, I didn't really take into account post-vacation catch-up on other things, and as such, some posts here are showing up a little late. (I think we'll all survive.)

Apparently, on August 1st, I saw Union City, a 1980 movie based on a Cornell Woolrich story, starring Debbie Harry. I am assuming this was a video rental, and not a theater viewing, as I can't find it listed as playing anywhere at that time.

And I am assuming it was chosen because my dad liked film noir-esque movies, and I liked Debbie Harry. I can definitely tell you I don't remember anything about it. It isn't currently available on DVD, and aside from the following screen test, I can't find any videos related to it.

I'm venturing to guess Debbie Harry wasn't that great in it, as it was an early role. But now I'm dying to see it again since it sounds like something I would appreciate a lot more now than I did then...

And since there's not much more I can say about it, here's a video by Blondie for a song called "Union City Blue," which doesn't actually have anything to do with the movie.

Friday, July 20, 2012


Tron...Tron, Tron, Tron. It's a movie that seems to have made a big impression on a lot of people I know, and yet, I didn't like it much. In fact, I fell asleep the first time I watched it.

And I wasn't the only one. I went to see it at the Alhambra Theater with my grandmother, Elsie. She used to visit every summer and stay with us for a few weeks, and we'd usually do stuff together during the day while my parents were at work. On this day, I convinced her to see it, and indeed, she fell asleep, too.

This wasn't an unusual occurrence for her; she tended to fall asleep for a little bit any time we'd go to or watch a movie. But it was odd for me at the time. (Now, I'm more like her, and usually have to watch DVDs in sessions.) I can see her being bored by it, but I'm a little surprised I was.

I mean, it's true I wasn't into computers as a kid, and wouldn't actually get one until I was well into my twenties, but I did have an Atari, and loved video arcades...still, the movie did nothing for me.

I watched it again a few years ago, in a double feature with its sequel, and found it was better than I remembered it being. And I even stayed awake through the whole thing this time!


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cat People (3)

I got my chance to see Cat People for a third time when it played the York Theater on Monday, July 19th. What kills me is it was playing as a double feature with Don't Look Now, which, for whatever reason, I didn't also see. I've definitely seen that movie many times, but I can't say for sure whether I had seen it yet at that point in 1982. Either way, it's a good double bill!

Like I've said before, Cat People is either a movie you go with, or you don't. And if you don't, you'll probably just find the whole thing ridiculous. The following scene is the perfect example of that. If you get to the final line in this clip and start to laugh, this might not be the movie for you...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Long Good Friday and Body Heat ²

On Saturday, July 17th, I went to a double feature of Body Heat and The Long Good Friday at the York Theater. It was my second viewing of Body Heat, (read about my first viewing here), but the first of The Long Good Friday. And frankly, that one bored me a bit.

Which isn't that surprising. It's kind of a complicated movie to follow, and that isn't helped by some of the accents in it; I know I was wishing for subtitles more than once. Bob Hoskins is at his most Cockney in it, and I think this role as a gangster kind of sealed his fate of tough-guy roles, and was certainly the movie that got him his first big notices in the States.

I can't say much more about it, and really have no interest in re-watching it, but I can say this. I don't remember a lot about the movie, but I will always remember its ending. It's a fucking great ending. If you haven't seen the movie, obviously don't watch the following clip. If you have, watch it and relive its very simple awesomeness.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Christiane F.

Christiane F. is a miserable movie, as you can probably tell pretty well from the trailer above. But for whatever reason, I really wanted to see it, and thus dragged my reluctant dad along to a showing at the York Theater. He knew what we'd be in for, but I guess I either knew and didn't care, or didn't believe it would be torturous.

And I'm not calling it torturous in any good sense of the term, as in, it's torturous, but has to be because it's such a real and important subject. The thing with drug movies is, you only ever need to see one. They're all the same: Drugs are awesome, but then they're not. Someone dies, someone tries to get clean. Will they stay clean or relapse? Throw in some gruesome cold turkey scenes, and you've got yourself a drug movie. EVERY DRUG MOVIE.

This one was based on a book that was actually a true story, and I'd eventually read the book, too. It's pretty much as miserable as the movie is, without the added benefit of a musical appearance by David Bowie.

I will say this about it, though: Natja Brunckhorst, the young German actress who plays Christiane, and who was only 14 at the time, is pretty good. I mean, perhaps it's not that hard to play strung out and vomiting, but she really knocks it out of der park.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

E.T. the Extra Terrestrial

After it had been out for about a month, I finally got around to seeing E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. Perhaps I was too busy seeing Poltergeist over and over again to make the effort? Actually, I think the main reason may have been an attempt to avoid lines. The movie was huge.

I'd end up seeing it twice, but I only have a memory of one time, and I'm not sure if it was the first or second time. I'd think it was the first, as that would make more of an impression, so I'm going to say the first time I saw E.T. was with my father at the Grand Lake in Oakland.

We didn't venture across the Bay often. If we did, it was usually to go to a show at the Greek, or to buy records in Berkeley. But I think we decided to make the trip this time because of a fondness for the Grand Lake, and we were lucky in that the movie was playing in the bigger main theater. Because, yes, as much as I love the Grand Lake, (and it's still in operation), I would love it so much more if it wasn't chopped up into multiple screens.

It might seem a little odd that of the two Spielberg movies that came out in 1982, I was more taken with Poltergeist than with E.T. And don't get me wrong, I really liked E.T. a LOT. But it didn't seem to get a hold of me as much as Poltergeist did. I think this probably had to do with my general preference for horror movies as opposed to science fiction.

It might also have been because E.T. was (and still is) an emotionally wrenching thing to sit through. I mean, we watch the poor creature suffer and die! And poor Elliot! I know I was basically sobbing in that first viewing.

And yeah, I also cried during the sappy ending, which really is Spielberg at his most mawkish. (That part's a little hard to sit through in repeat viewings, just because I get a headache from all the eye rolling I do.)

And I guess that is as good an explanation as any as to why I preferred Poltergeist to E.T. Poltergeist has its incredibly sappy parts, too; but it also has a guy tearing his own face off. It wins.

I have a bunch of clippings in my Book. For this first post, here's a review from the Examiner, and some capsule reviews from other local sources.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Blade Runner ²

My second viewing of Blade Runner also took place at the Coronet. I don't have any memory of it, so couldn't say what time of day it was, or who I went with. If I marked the date down correctly, it was a Monday, but since the movie is rated R, it seems unlikely I went alone. I think there might have been a few times when one of my parents would buy the ticket, but not actually go to the movie, but I'm not sure if this was one of those times.

Obviously, Blade Runner deserves more than one viewing. Even if you don't dig the story that much, or the characters, it's a visual feast, and you can't take it in with just one viewing. I mean, I can watch it over and over again just for Rachel's hair alone.

So. That scene. It's the best hair scene in the movie, of course. But as a love scene, it always just skeeved me out. Harrison Ford looks ghastly, he's basically assaulting her, and it's supposed to end in love? I don't buy it. I get that he's an asshole, but I think when it comes to his relationship with Rachel, it's supposed to be the one place he's caring and human, with full irony intended. But there's nothing romantic about that moment between them.

Back to the visuals. If you were to put this movie side by side with a movie full of CG cityscapes, I think Blade Runner would always win. Always. Director Ridley Scott has announced he is working on a sequel, and this worries me for a few reasons. One, because I just don't think it could ever look as awesome as the first one. And two, after seeing the mess that is Prometheus, I'm very worried about his abilities when it comes to revisiting past works...

But, maybe the reaction to Prometheus will have some affect on him, and on the kind of story he decides to tell. We've got at least two years to wait and see.

Only one more thing from my Genre Book: A newspaper ad from the Chronicle's Pink Section.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Poltergeist (V)

Another day in the middle of the week, in the middle of summer vacation. Another day with not much to do. Another day in which I saw Poltergeist at the Northpoint.

I wonder if the people who worked there noticed I had been there four previous times at this point? The theater was never very crowded on those weekend viewings, so maybe a 12-year-old girl by herself at the movies over and over gained a comment or two?

Probably not. They were most likely bored teenagers just a tad older than me.

Here are a couple more reviews I saved, one from the Examiner, and another from Trashola...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Missing is a weird movie to throw into a summer full of science fiction and horror, but for some reason, I saw it.

And actually, it's not a bad movie, and it ended up being one I would watch a few more times, whenever it turned up on cable. It was probably my first introduction to politically charged cinema, and it certainly was my first introduction to the real-life political upheavals that took place in Central and South America in the 1970s and 1980s. A year or so later, I'd be going to Rock Against Reagan concerts, and protesting the President's support of the Nicaraguan Contras.

Communism seems like such a quaint and long-ago threat now that I sometimes forget that the 1980s were part of the "Cold War," and the political upheavals in Latin America, and the United States' support of very dangerous and questionable rebel factions, all had to do with lingering fears about a communist takeover of the world. So, I grew up not fearing communism, but instead fearing the government's fear and response to it.

I saw the movie at the York, on a Saturday afternoon, and it must have been playing with something else, but apparently I didn't bother with whatever movie that was. As I mentioned, it's a politically-charged movie, and one that is, ultimately, pretty anti-American government. It's based on a true story, and a book called The Execution of Charles Horman: An American Sacrifice, about events in Chile in 1973. I'd end up reading the book, too, and I actually recommend both. While they might be considered "good for you" works, both are actually pretty suspenseful, and play out like well-plotted thrillers.

The movie was, for the most part, critically acclaimed, so I've always been a little surprised by Roger Ebert's tepid response to it. I wonder if it's a movie he's gone back to since then. I know I have, and I think it holds up really well, even if it feels a tad dated at this point in history.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Blade Runner

Seeing Blade Runner for the first time in 1982 was another sneak preview experience. It was a Thursday, so it was just the night before the film opened, and I'm not sure if it was a public screening, or one in which you needed a pass to get in. (I'm going to try and confirm it was one or the other during a trip to the library.)

The preview was at my beloved Coronet, and I remember since it was so crowded, we had to sit a lot further back in the "loge" than we usually preferred to sit. I'd have better seats the second time I went to go see it, about two weeks later.

I loved the movie, but apparently not enough to give it a five on my rating scale; it garnered a mere four-and-a-half. I think even then I could see there were two big problems with the movie: Harrison Ford's awful narration, and the silly happy ending. I remember thinking, "If there's a place so beautiful and green and free out there, why doesn't everyone take advantage of it?"

I've got the deluxe five disc DVD set that comes in a "Voight-Kampff" briefcase, and rewatched the 1982 version, and indeed, after being exposed to versions that don't have Ford's deadpan narration throughout, it's kind of painful to sit through. Still, I was able to look past that enough when I first saw it to realize it was a pretty amazing movie.

Of course, at the time, it got its fair share of bad reviews, (as you can see below), and it was a flop. Its box office failure probably had a lot to do with E.T.'s dominance at the ticket booth, but also with Harrison Ford's presence in the movie. Raiders of the Lost Ark had been released the year before, and was, of course, a huge hit, so at that point, Ford was both Han Solo AND Indiana Jones in the public eye. But in Blade Runner, he's an asshole who shoots women, (OK, fine, a replicant woman) in the back, and gets his ass kicked (more than once!) by androids. (A friend at the time, who had a HUGE crush on Harrison Ford, was totally grossed out that he makes-out with, as she called Rachel, "that fake robot." I appreciate the contradiction in that statement.)

Most of the reviews praised its visuals, but felt the story was flimsy; it was all show and no soul (kind of like a replicant!), but obviously, it's stood the test of time. I think even if the various "director's cuts" hadn't been released, Blade Runner would still have ended up being considered one of the best science fiction films of all time.

Also, it takes place in 2019, so does that mean we're only seven years from off world colonies and flying cars? I can't wait!!

I'll have some more to say about it in another post, so for now, here's a less-than stellar review from the Examiner, plus some capsule reviews from the Chronicle:

And a review from the East Bay Express, continued on a second scan, where you can also see a review from Trashola.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Poltergeist (Four)

June 22nd, 1982. A Tuesday. What to do?


Which I did. Still at the Northpoint, I'm pretty sure.

Here's a depressing fact: I am now older than the parents in the movie were supposed to be, and indeed, am older than both Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams were at the time.

I don't think I've ever been as "adult" as that, and I probably never will be! And to prove it, I'm going to be really juvenile and post the only truly gross scene in the movie. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Thing

My first exposure to John Carpenter's The Thing came at a fantasy/comic book/horror/science fiction convention that I can't, for the life of me, remember the name of. It wasn't WonderCon; it wasn't Comi-Con; it wasn't Space-Con. I'm sure buried in some box under a pile of junk in my storage unit is a program from that convention, but until I unearth that, it may remain a mystery.

It was held in the Holiday Inn on Van Ness and California, and was tiny compared to the conventions we see today, but was still full of nerds selling comics and movie memorabilia, and, of course, at least one presentation of that "Star Trek" blooper reel.

I know I went to this particular convention with my father at least twice. I think 1982 was the first time, and the following year, after I had seen and become obsessed with Cat People, I spent most of my time looking for collectible stuff related to that movie, things like foreign posters, or lobby cards and film stills. I did end up finding some stuff, and would usually trade one or two Blue Harvest t-shirts for the loot. (At that time, those shirts were rare and coveted, and because my dad had access to the original screens that printed them, he could run off a dozen or so and use them for trade. Come to think of it, it was almost like printing money. Or at least printing nerd money.)

The convention must have taken place early in the year, as it was several months before The Thing's June release, and we were treated to about a ten minute scene from the film. The funny thing is, the print they had was 70mm, and while they had a 70mm projector to screen it with, they didn't have a screen big enough, so we had to watch it shrunk down to what was, essentially, the size of a big modern day TV screen. This is the first half of that scene, (the second part, not seen here, is when they find the flying saucer buried in the ice).

I was already a John Carpenter fan, so was definitely excited to see The Thing, and the clip only validated that excitement. My dad was also keen on seeing it, as he was a fan of the original film, and seeing that one in a theater as a kid was one of his most memorable movie going experiences.

We ended up seeing it at the Royal Theater, at a sneak preview showing. Back then, sneak preview screenings weren't really secret, and you didn't always need passes to get in. They'd just run an ad in the paper announcing the film, time, and theater, and you'd show up. There would usually be a line, but there usually was on opening night, too, so it wasn't any less convenient.

So, we got to see it the Sunday before it opened, sat in the balcony, and loved every slimy minute of it.

Of course, as is proving to be the case with a lot of these 1982 films, what are now considered classics, weren't always loved at the time, and that's certainly the case with The Thing. As I ended up seeing it a second time the following month, I'll save some of my further thoughts about it for another post, and leave you with a few of the film's less-than-stellar reviews...

Turning the Page

We've reached page two of my movie ledger, pictured below. If you want to see what movies will be coming up, this is where to look!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Deathtrap is a movie I have no real fondness for, though it's not a bad movie at all. It's just not really my cup of tea, and I remember being a tad bored by it, even though it does--for a movie filmed on one set, with only four characters--have a lot of twists and turns.

It looks like we saw it at the Balboa Theater, a theater that is actually still around, bless its multi-screened heart. It must have been a second-run showing, or at least a matinee, as it only cost $2.50 to see. (TWO-FIFTY!)

I'll be honest. When it comes to Deathtrap, the first thing that comes to mind is what was, at the time, a controversial moment, which is a huge reveal in the movie, and is therefore a gigantic, whopping spoiler. So, if you haven't seen the movie, and want to see it unspoiled, you should probably stop reading now.



All right.

It's this moment between Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve, and while it wouldn't raise an eyebrow now, it raised quite a few back in the day.

I rewatched the whole film, and my opinion on it hasn't really changed. It's fine, but nothing extraordinary. Like most films based on plays, it's a tad claustrophobic. Michael Caine isn't one of my favorite actors, so I found his character a bit grating. (Also, his hair is at its Michael Caine-iest.)

I actually found Dyan Cannon the most entertaining thing in the movie, even though, apparently, she was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for worst supporting actress for the role. I guess some people just don't find her constant screaming as funny as I do, and that was always kind of her thing...

Monday, June 18, 2012

Poltergeist (3)

Five days after seeing Poltergeist for a second time, I went and saw it AGAIN.

Get used to it. Three more viewings to go!

Because of that, I'll limit this post to a few clippings. Below are some reviews; the big one's from the Examiner. The review is continued on the second scan.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Poltergeist ²

As I mentioned previously, I went to see Poltergeist a lot in the summer of 1982. There were a number of reasons for that, the first one being, I just loved the movie. That's probably the most important reason of all.

But it was also really easy to just go see it again and again. It was rated PG, so I could get in without a parent; the Northpoint was just one bus ride away (the 19 Polk) from where I lived; and school was out, most of my friends were away for the summer, and I was bored. It was better than sitting at home watching "The Brady Bunch" reruns all day, (which, don't get me wrong, I did a LOT).

One of the best things about the movie is the kids. Spielberg--aside from the travesty that was Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom--has a knack with child actors, and the kids in Poltergeist are cute without being cloying, especially the little girl...oh crap. What was her name in the movie again?

Right. Carol Anne!

But seriously, Heather O'Rourke really was a find; totally adorable, but also kind of spooky at times.

Sadly, she died young, and her death, combined with the murder of Dominique Dunne, (who played her teenage sister), and the subsequent deaths of some of the actors in the sequel, built up belief that there was some kind of "Poltergeist Curse" plaguing cast members. Except that, you know, two of those actors that died were already old or sick when they were cast in the sequel, so...

Perhaps the weirdest lingering effect of the early death of O'Rourke are the countless video tributes that you can find posted on YouTube today. Seriously, just search for "Heather O'Rourke tribute," and you've got yourself a day's worth of creepy entertainment.

I'll end this post with some more items from my Genre Book, this time just a couple of newspaper ads...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Road Warrior

As I've mentioned before, in looking back my 1982 movie experiences, sometimes I have no idea where I actually saw a movie, and other times, the memory is so clear, it's like I went last week. For The Road Warrior, it's like the latter, as I instantly remembered that my parents and I went to see it on a Saturday at the Stonestown Twin.

How come it's always the crappy theaters that are still around? Indeed, the Stonestown is still around, although these days it shows mainly indie and foreign films. But, come to think of it, The Road Warrior is technically a foreign film, isn't it?

So, at the time, I had not seen the first movie, Mad Max, though I did know of its existence and was aware that Road Warrior was kind of a sequel, but kind of not, which is to say, you really didn't need to see that first one to get any enjoyment from its follow-up. (And in fact, I've only seen parts of Mad Max since, and only the badly-dubbed version that was forced upon American audiences for years.)

And enjoy The Road Warrior I did. I mean, come on. The movie is nuts.

In re-watching it now, its flaws show through a little stronger. The car chases and crashes are certainly still spectacular, but the movie is pretty low budget, so director George Miller relies on speeding up the film a lot of times, (especially whenever "nitro" is engaged), and there's also some weird reverse motion stuff here and there. Also, the autogyro moments are pretty lame. While I'm definitely a proponent for using traditional effects when possible, there were many moments in watching it again when I wished CG had been in use way back then.

It's also kind of sad watching it now, knowing the trajectory Mel Gibson would eventually follow. He's definitely amazing in the movie, and man, was he a handsome mofo. But I have to admit I'm not that upset that he's not the star of the latest Mad Max movie that will be coming our way...

There are a few things in my Genre Book to include here. The first is an ad that includes a blurb from Herb Caen, who wasn't a movie critic, but had enough local name recognition as a columnist that I guess he had some influence when it came to such matters...

And here are few capsule reviews, from the Examiner, the East Bay Express, and the Chronicle.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Diner ²

I have no memory of going to see Diner for a second time in a theater back in 1982, but apparently I did. And this time I saw it at the Coronet. It makes sense, though, since I loved the movie right away, and loved that theater even more.

As I mentioned previously, there were two San Francisco theaters back in the 80's that one always hoped a movie would play in: The Northpoint and the Coronet. I've talked about the Northpoint in a few other posts, but I guess I didn't actually get to see a movie at the Coronet in 1982 until this second viewing of Diner on June 4th.

The Coronet was easily my favorite of the two big theaters, mainly because of all the great movie memories associated with it, including viewings of Bugsy Malone, Star Wars, Superman, Blade Runner, Return of the Jedi, Aliens, Batman, The Thin Red Line, and the Star Wars re-release. At almost all of those movies, we had to stand in line outside, usually for at least an hour, and I don't remember caring one bit about the wait; it was part of the fun. 

Damn, I loved that theater.

I said pretty much all I wanted to say about Diner in my previous post, so here's another clip. It's not the best scene in the movie, but unfortunately, there aren't a lot of clips available online. But it does have a stripper in it, so, there's that...

Saturday, June 2, 2012


On Wednesday, June 2nd, 1982, I went to a preview screening of Poltergeist. Preview screenings were always pretty exciting to me, and I got to go to a lot of them because my father worked for a company that did t-shirts and merchandising, and they would often get passes. When you're a kid, getting to see something before everyone else does feels great. This one was at the Northpoint Theater, and I think it was preceded by dinner across the street at Caesar's Restaurant. A fun night!

I'll just state this up front: I absolutely LOVED this movie. Adored. Which is why I ended up seeing it a total of SIX TIMES in the theater that year. Six times!!

I thought it was funny, and scary, and I loved the dynamic of the family, and it even made me cry a few times. (OK, a lot of times.) Yeah. I cried during Poltergeist. Puberty! It's a crazy thing.

Since I saw it so many times, (SIX!!) I'm going to save some of my thoughts on the movie for future posts about it. (SIX!) But I can say this: In rewatching it, I'm kind of amazed that I can still basically recite all the dialogue in it. It's embedded in my noggin.

And being that I loved the movie back then, I was compelled to write a review of it right away. It's really kind of, (OK, totally), embarrassing, but I'm just gonna suck it up and include it here for your amusement. (Click the image to magnify.)

In my review, I mention how there was a bit of controversy surrounding who actually directed the movie: Tobe Hooper, or producer Steven Spielberg. This was something I had read about in the Pink Section of the Chronicle, in the following article.

Back then, I didn't really give a crap, and really didn't understand who Tobe Hooper was, or the cache he had in the horror genre, as I had yet to see his The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Eventually I did, and could understand why there was serious doubt about him directing something as clichedly "Spielbergian" as Poltergeist. I'd like to think it was just a friendly collaboration, and the movie ended up with the best (and some of the worst) aspects of both the directors, (just watch the scene where the family is doing a patented "staring into the light" Spielberg moment, but what they're looking at is the complete destruction of their house; wonder and horror at the same time), but I have a feeling Spielberg probably did most of the heavy lifting...

I'll have more to say about just why I think I fell in love with the movie in some future posts, as well as some more newspaper clippings and articles...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cat People (1942)

I had not yet seen the original The Cat People when I watched and fell in love with the remake. I imagine some might find that sacrilege, and for sure there were people back in 1982 who thought it was a crime against cinema to remake a movie as great as the 1942 Jacques Tourneur classic, but I say if a remake can introduce you to a movie you had not known about before, and compel you to see it, then that's the best thing a remake can do.

I only just now put together that the remake came out 40 years after the original. When you think of how different life (and movies) were between '42 and '82, it's kind of astounding. Especially when you consider that the differences between '82 and 2012--30 years--aren't that remarkable, in comparison...

Looking back, I had assumed I had seen it at the Castro or the York, but it looks like it was a VHS rental, and the movie was probably released on video to coincide with the remake.

At the time, when comparing the two, I obviously preferred the remake. But I was definitely able to see that the original had its merits, (merits I was more able to appreciate later in life). What most interested me were the similarities between the two.

There are obvious homages to the original in Schrader's remake, the biggest being the scene in the swimming pool. Fans of the original tend to say the scene is better in the first film and it creates higher suspense because Tourneur never actually shows anything, and is able to create fear with mere suggestion.

The curious thing is, aside from the nudity, the two scenes are very, very similar, and in fact, Tourneur shows MORE than Scharder does (at least when it comes to the cat; not so much in the nipple department). Tourneur's version includes some animated shadows, and at one point, a briefly animated cat shadow. Schrader's version mainly uses darkness and sound. Watch the original scene here, (can't embed it), then the 1982 version below...

Frankly, I think they're both great scenes.

The other scene that's in both films is when Irena is stalking Alice, and Alice gets startled by a bus. Again, a lot of people praise the original, feeling it it works better because the sound of the bus matches the sound of a hissing cat. But I never actually thought that bus sounded anything like a cat. You can watch the full scene here, but the bus shows up at the very end, if you want to skip ahead.

Schrader's version is a bit shorter, and the bus has been replaced by the St. Charles Streetcar, but I've always thought that streetcar sounds more like a panther's roar than that bus sounds like a cat's hiss...(Scene is embedded below at the right start point, and continues on to the pool scene.)

Obviously, I have a fondness for the remake, but I absolutely love the original as well. I think Schrader's inclusion of some clear-cut homages are great updates, and that the movies, as a whole, both deserve praise. Schrader took the violent and sexual aspects of the story that could only be hinted at in the original, and made them the explicit center of his movie. I'm all for subtly and innuendo, don't get me wrong. But sometimes you just want to see a naked lady turn into a cat.