Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Scanners is a movie I didn't really like when I saw it as a twelve-year-old, and because of that first impression, it's not one of the Cronenberg movies I've ever felt the need to come back to again and again. I've seen it again once or twice over the years, and while I can admire parts of it now, I'm still kind of turned off by its cheapness, bad acting, and overall...Canadianness. (And I don't mean that in a purely negative way. Canada is awesome! Just that it has a kind of foreignness that's a tad off putting and depressing to me. I have the same reaction to a lot of British movies.)

As far as I can tell, we didn't go see this in a theater. It came out in 1981, but I couldn't find a listing for it at any rep houses on April 24th, so I likely saw it on video.

Ultimately, I probably watched the movie just for that one famous moment--we all know what it is--and that is certainly my go-to image whenever I get a migraine, and anyone asks what that feels like.

So, with that, please to enjoy the best 10 seconds found in the movie Scanners.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Swamp Thing

The above trailer is hopelessly murky, but I had to post it because the voiceover kind of illustrates why I love the movie Swamp Thing. "Monsters and midgets!...An incredibly adventure that grows on you!" Surely, this is one of director Wes Craven's masterworks!

Now, I am a huge fan of the Alan Moore "Swamp Thing" comics; they're what got me into comics in the 80's. And while the movie has absolutely nothing to do with those comics, I think it is because of the movie that DC decided to revamp the series in the first place, so it at least deserves our thanks, if not our love.

And yeah, I do love it. I remember it being a really fun day at the movies. I think by the time we saw it on April 17th, it had moved to the second run theaters, (it opened in February), and we saw it at the 4 Star for a mere three bucks.

I'm pretty sure that at first, I was a little confused about it. Was it intentionally funny? Was I laughing at it, or with it? But by the time I saw it again, most likely on video, it was clear it wasn't a movie that was taking itself too seriously. I mean, you can practically see the zipper running up the Swamp Thing's back.

And it's that goofy humor that made me love it. Indeed, there is a midget monster in it, and there's a completely awesome moment when Swamp Thing starts to grow a new arm, after it's chopped off by bad guys, and during the process we see this tiny little twig hand start to pop out of his shoulder and make a fist.

Also, Adrienne Barbeau runs around in a wet shirt a lot, and what's not to love about that?

And I wasn't the only one who liked it. I remember watching Siskel and Ebert talk about the movie on their show, and I know they both loved it, even while they were cracking up about it. I can't find that original show, but they do talk about it in an episode about "Buried Treasures." I'd include the video here, but it can't be embedded without autoplay turned on, (annoying!), so go here to view the episode, and skip to the 18 minute mark to see the Swamp Thing discussion. (It also includes, right before that, some discussion of a previous Mulled Movie, The Wanderers.)

Only have a few things from my "book" for this one. First is a newspaper ad...

And the second is a couple of review clips, including another from "Trashola"...

I didn't get to re-watch the movie before posting this, but am happy to report it is available on Netflix Instant, and it's also available on Amazon as a cheap rental, (free to Prime customers). A re-watching is definitely in my future.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Richard Pryor Live On the Sunset Strip

For whatever reason, April 9th's movie completely slipped my mind, and thus this entry is showing up several days late. Fortunately, I don't really have a lot to say about Richard Pryor Live On the Sunset Strip, or my experience of seeing it. One thing that was enlightening was finding out I saw it at a theater I had forgotten even existed: The Metro II (later, the Mercury) on Union Street. It was smaller than the Metro, (also on Union Street), and located about two blocks away in a building that is now gone.

Anyway, there's no denying the movie is a classic in the stand-up comedy genre, a genre that seems mostly relegated to cable TV now. (What was the last hit stand-up movie? The Kings of Comedy?) It's probably best remembered for the extended bit he did about his freebasing accident, in which he caught on fire and ran down the street. So I'll leave you with a little of that.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Cat People

In 1982, there were a couple of movies I loved so much, I went to see them again and again. Cat People was one of them.

Now, Cat People is kind of a hard film to admit you love. I can understand seeing it and laughing at its cheesiness and complete implausibility; you either go along with it, and view it as a sort of adult fairy tale, or you don't. And if you don't, I get it, believe me.

But I did go along with it, and still do. Sure, watching it in recent years I am a little less able to look past its flaws, but I still find it extremely watchable, and will still willfully admit to loving it.

Since this is a movie I ended up seeing several more times over the course of the year, I think I'll break up my thoughts on it into several different posts. I also have a lot of ephemera related to the movie that I'll have to try and dig up, and hope to post that stuff too. So for today, I'll talk about the experience of seeing it for the first time.

On Saturday, April 3rd, 1982, my parents and I ventured out to the Plaza 1&2 Theater, which was by Serramonte in Colma. Even though it was a two-screen theater, it was pretty big, and had a parking lot, which was always an added bonus on a weekend. I'm pretty sure the theater wasn't very crowded, despite the movie being released the day before, (it wasn't exactly a blockbuster), but I do remember there were two women sitting behind us who had a lot to say about Annette O'Toole's naked breasts during the movie's swimming pool scene.

So, initial thoughts first: I knew I liked Nastassja (then "Nastassia") Kinski after seeing her in One From the Heart the month before, and she was just as watchable in Cat People. Indeed, I can't imagine anyone else doing the role justice; the character of Irena has to feel almost other-worldly; you can't place where she's from, but she certainly doesn't look or sound like someone you'd meet in every day life.

Pair an actress I already knew I liked, with a genre, horror, that I was a long-standing fan of, and you've got something twelve-year-old me was almost guaranteed to love. Set the thing in New Orleans--a city I had, at that point, not been to, but held fascination for me because of family ties to the area--and bingo; I was hooked to the point of near obsession.

I'll get into some other possible explanations for loving it so much in future posts. I will say that the purchasing of things related to the movie began right after we left the theater, as we drove to a record store on Geary Street and bought the theme song single by David Bowie. (I believe the actual soundtrack LP, which I would also end up buying, hadn't been released yet.) You gotta love a song that has leopard roars in the mix!

I added quite a few newspaper ads and reviews to my "Genre Book," so let's end this with a look at those. (As always, click the images to see larger versions.) In May, I'll more to say about the movie, so stay tuned!

Here's the first part of a review from the East Bay Express...

You can read the rest of the review here, along with some other shorter pieces and listings, including another from Trashola.

This is an interview with director Paul Schrader from BAM Magazine (remember that?!). I'll have to put it in here in four parts since the original clipping is pretty large...