Thursday, December 30, 2010


Sometimes you don't always get what you want, but you always get what you need. Never has a film caused such frenzy and mayhem. Once it starts, you might as well get comfortable, because you are not going to be able to tear yourself away from the screen. Images flash before your eyes that don't mean anything at first glance. Characters are developed to go nowhere and for some reason the musical numbers range from mass hysteria to choreographed smoking. There is nothing like your first bite, but once you taste it you will be begging another. Everyone scream, "BIM!" and let THE APPLE set you free.

The moment you see THE APPLE title it is on! Voices in chorus shout, "B!" I! M!" You don't know what it means, but according to the movie, the kids of the future love it. Well, Canadian kids at least. It is mayhem on mayhem as the youth of tomorrow try to contain themselves. Hundreds of Extras are running around, most looking into the camera, and screaming "DO THE BIM!" and you will be doing it too. Pandi And Dandi (BIM'S newest singing sensation) nail their performance at the World Vision singing contest and OWN the audience! 150 heartbeats!! The highest ever! Don't ask. This Donna Summer/Rod Stewart combination fear no one and have no problem showing a little (or a lot) of skin if the occasion rises. Just as they are about to rejoice in their accolades and marketing tie ins (BIM SHIRTS!), a frumpy boy/girl duo from MooseJaw enter stage left. PROBLEM!

Alphie, played by dreamy George Glimour in his only role, sounds like a can a soup being opened, but the real star is Bibi. Catherine Mary Stewart is BEAUTIFUL. She sings with a gusto of a million Carly Simons. Their power ballad "Love the Universal Melody" is a hard sell to the disenfranchised teens of the future. Well futurist Canadian kids, that is. But, one by one they zap 'em. Alphie and Bibi stick with the oldest marketing plan in the world. Get the gays! Alphie sports the BIGGEST bull hoof in the history of Canadian musicals. Get the girls! The song makes girls cry. GET EVERYONE! The straight boys get to put their arm around their dates and cop a feel! HEARTBEATS rising! 151....154....The mastermind that runs BIM will not stand for this and sabotages their act. The crowd actually starts booing! I love a good booing crowd scene. Poor Alphie and Bibi. They chance at stardom is over, but someone is always watching....AND we are only five minutes into the movie!! PRAISE THE APPLE!

The Apple moves as such lightening SPEEEEED, that you must pay careful attention to every detail. When the vanilla couple is invited to a house party thrown by the head of BIM industries, we get slapped with a supporting character named Ashley. He does it all. He came up with the brilliant idea to do concert tee-shirts, but was shrugged off. So he puts his marketing skills to full use when he creates the BIM mark! It is a little holographic sticker that you can place anywhere! Everyone at the party loves the idea and while Alphie is turning down drinks, Bebe is popping unidentifiable pills and swooning with fake Rod Stewart on the rooftop. They launch into a real pretty mid-tempo pop ballad and the entire party erupts into a choreographed dance number. Ashley gets LOTS of face time during this number. Ashley on the sofa. Ashley on the phone. Ashley in swivel chair smoking cigars and with a different lady on his lap with each turn! He even gets an old hippy dude in his lap. Ashley knows how to party and ain't scared of busting out a little soft shoe if the need arises, which it does! The crowd BOOS Alphie out of the party and Bibi is left with the wolves of the music industry.

The next day, they both arrive to sign contracts at BIM ( for future reference don't EVER ask Ballet 2000 to start performing) and are transported into hell. What follows is for the history books. Hell has been run over by various aged dancers in costume. The musical number centered around taking a bite from an apple. Get it?! Bibi happily takes it and is introduced to an Actual Vampire, Granny Grumps and a whole host of monsters wanting a piece of her. She commits the ultimate trust fall while Alphie, in a loincloth, goes running!

The movie really gets moving with the big production number of "SPEED". Bibi is on a tour of America's finest high school gyms and she gives it her all. The "Speed" song is nothing short of inspiring. I swear I lost ten pounds jogging to this song. Once you have witnessed the sequence your life is forever altered and there is no going back. I have seen viewers of The Apple bust into Speed moves in bars, at parties, on the beach, on an airplane and even the QFC on Broadway. Once it is in the fabric of your being, you cannot control your limbs. It is three minutes and some change of pure joy. You will want to rewind it immediately for a more in depth study.

While Bibi's star is rising, Alphie is in the gutter. BUT he does have a new song! He tries to cut a demo, but everyone hates "Where has it gone". He sings it while walking around. He sings it on the monorail! FUTURE!! He has turned into a drunk and has a loudmouth landlady which turns out to be his Yoda. Little does he know that "Do The Bim" has been picked up by the national fitness program and at four o clock, everyday, all citizens are forced to stop what they are doing and DANCE! People pull over on the highway, nuns dances and even a surgery is stopped to do the BIM. And in what is many of the brilliant moments of The Apple, the guy being operating on starts dancing, but then dies of a heart attack! FUTURE!! Alphie can't weasel his way into the Bibi show and gets beat up after trying to get to close. He wanders around in the rain, bleeding to death, while singing "Cry For Me" and suddenly, Bebe is longing for Alf and starts singing it too! It brings a tear to my eye.

In a last ditch effort to rescue Bibi from becoming a BIM monster, Alphie bust into a party, but gets sidelined by fake Donna Summer. She seduces him through a song called "I'm Cumming For You". It's as dirty as it sounds. I think I know where all the Solid Gold dancers came from! Escaping with his bull hoof still virtuous, he takes to the streets where a hobo family finds him and brings him to a bunch of hippies. Bibi decides to go find him and she and fake Donna Summer sing a "No More Tears" rip off together. DIVAS! She is told to go look under a bridge. What she finds there is left up to your own interpations. God? More Hippies? LSD? It's a headscratcher for sure, but once the final credits roll, you want more SPEEEEEEEEEED!!!!

Released in 1980, just when America was turning it's back on Disco, The Apple failed to find an audience. But thanks to old videos stores across this great nation of ours, that don't get rid of anything, the people that were suppose to find The Apple did. Forced to deal with bad VHS copies and horrible pan and scan, the followers discovered an entirely new movie when it was released on DVD in beautiful widescreen. More dancers, more ashley and more SPPPEEEEDDDD!!!!

One of the best parts is Catherine Mary Stewart. Now, CMS, takes it to town! You get Night of The Comet AND The Apple? Plus The Last Starfighter (she is trailer park trash in it!!!) and a couple of wanna-be rock musicals like Scenes From The Goldmine. It is The Apple that allows us to know just what a triple threat CMS is. Watch yourself!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


The promotion for SANTA CLAUS: THE MOVIE boast that for the first time, the true story of Santa Claus would be revealed. That is unless you don't count the 1902, THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF SANTA CLAUS, written by L. Frank Baum. But, never mind that. The 1985 spectacular, blows the lid of of the legend and peels back to showcase a very intimate portrait of ole Kris Kringle. A huge budget and quality special effects made this film seems like a sure fire holiday classic, but as we have learned you cannot force a classic on the public. It has to happen organically, but don't tell Coca-Cola that!

The film starts somewhere in the middle of the Arctic. A gentle, bearded jolly type( the local yokels call him Uncle Claus) is dragging his put upon wife around a village to deliver toys to all the boys and the girls. His mission is to bring cheer to all the kids and not seem prevvy while doing it. One foggy night, he and the misses are guiding their sled drawn by reindeer home, but get lost in a snowstorm and freeze to death. Santa's dead. End of movie. But there must have been some magic in those snowy plains, because a northern star shines and a crack in time split the universe in two. An alternate world opens up. A world were normal sized men are called Elves and old boring toys are mass produced. They grab the two dead visitors and drag them back to their kingdom on top of the world. Once inside, they revive Uncle Claus and his wife and that is when they both learn their destiny. Burgess Meredith appears as Father Time and conducts a pagan snow ceremony and informs Claus that he will now go by his spirit name Santa Claus and will live forever. He will be forced to live with 200 men and deliver toys to the children of the world every Christmas. Mrs. Claus gets to live forever also, but gets to spend her time cleaning up after everyone and baking. Typical Male. They take the news with good stride and saddle up for a long ass winter. You may notice that Mrs. Claus is played by Judy Cornwell. She later went on to play Daisy in one of my favorite BBC shows, KEEPING UP APPEARANCES. She is given nothing to work with in this movie though. And her wonderful comedic timing is simply wasted.

So in the first 20 minutes you basically get an origins story. And the movie is starting to feel a little like SUPERMAN, but real boring. The magical flying (which isn't as good as SUPERMAN or 2, but better than 3 or 4), the icy castle, the heavy handed plot about being a loner and having everyday magic are all worked into the film. Suddenly, the reindeer are talking and the elves are making horsehead bookends. Everyone seems stoned out of their minds. Instead of hiring actors of the correct stature, they opted to go another route. I am all for height blind casting, but they keep shoving it in our faces that the elves aren't right. They make numerous references to the size of elves, but they all can look Santa in the eye and some are taller than Mrs. Claus. And where are the women? Elvettes? It's stupid. But the sets are all built extra big, which only exaggerate everyone's height and makes you feel like someone slipped some LSD in your egg nog.

Xmas hits and it hits hard and fast. Santa Claus is ready to pounce on the shit. A little magic sprinkles on the heads of the reindeer and Santa himself and they are off! He is delivering toys to all the children of the world, focusing heavily on New York City. In SUPERMAN movie fashion, he flies past just about every landmark known to man and even tries a double header triple scooper sled trick, but the reindeer just miss nailing it. Santa's reply, "We'll try it again sometime!" A CLUE!!!!!!

Years turn into Centuries and Santa Claus has everything down to a fine science. He can magical appears anywhere, go anywhere and eat all the cookies he wants! But even Santa has his crosses to bear. Did you know a cat started the entire naughty and nice list? It's true! Now you have to be nice all year to get shit and Santa is going to check it twice. That's what he said at least. Santa gets his first review in the form of a poem called "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and is immediately put on a strict diet because he is referred to as chubby and plumb! See! CHARMING! WHIMSY!! Christmas Magic!!

We flash forward to Christmas 1986 and the elves perform a big musical number called, "THANK U SANTA". I like to think Prince wrote it. Things are changing. The baby boomers are in full swing and popping kids out like crazy and Santa needs an assistant. Two elves battle it out for the job. The challenge? Who can make the most toys in the least amount of time? Patch, played by a sorta short Dudley Moore, wins by using a technique that would later be adopted by Kathy Lee Gifford and Wal-Mart. Xmas is on and Santa, with Patch's help, delivers all the toys to all the kids of the world again. It starts to get old quick, but this time it is different. Santa meets two very special children. One, a hobo kid with a hipster haircut and a rich orphaned girl who enjoys drinking NEW COKE while writing Dear Santa letters. She just wants a friend and she finds one in the hobo kid. They are both kinda creepy.

Just when you are so bored with the movie that you are biting off the heads of all the gingerbread men, the most remarkable sequence of SANTA CLAUS:THE MOVIE happens. You will want to rewind this 20 seconds of gold. Kids, worldwide, are playing with their new toys on Christmas day and they get schooled in a harsh lesson of quantity over quality. All of Patch's toy start to fall apart!! We get to see total mayhem! Kids are falling off tricycles, wheels are flying off of wagons and toys crumbling. Lots of tears and great parent reaction shots! Xmas literally goes to pieces! It's movie magic!

Well, Santa is not happy and he has to fire Patch as his assistant. Disappointed with his work, Patch leaves the North Pole with a big bag of Christmas magic dust and moves to NYC to prove to Santa and himself that he is a good toy maker. Because if you can make it there.....This is when he meets Lex Luthor. The head of BZ toys.

A year passes and Patch is the toast of the town. He has created a new toy, The Lollipop, using his know how and a little magic dust. It is the must have item of the year! And to everyone's SHOCK, once you eat it you can levitate. One woman becomes Mary Poppins, an inner city youth can slam dunk with the best of them and one naughty little red head uses his powers to get at the cookies on the top shelf. He even gives his startled mother and good "F you" stink eye, as he chomps down on a handful of cookies. The build up for the lollipops was so suspenseful. I was hoping for some Halloween 3 action, but no such luck. Santa is bummed that no one wants his toys anymore and wants to call it quits. But when BZ TOYS announces they are going to launch a new holiday called CHRISTMAS 2 that will happen every March and the world seems thrilled. It even gets on the cover of TIME magazine. Santa is through and sets out to put an end to it. Little does he know that BZ TOYS has created a brand new candy cane with a higher dosage of the magic dust that will allow kids to FLY! Patch is crowned the new Santa and is sent to deliver the new candy to the world, but some lowly factory worker discovers that the candy canes will explode if they are too close to heat! TEN MINUTE WRAP UP!!!

Orphan rich girl discovers that her Step-Uncle (Lex Luthor) has kidnapped the hobo kid, cuz he overheard secrets. Patch is flying a sled full of dynamite candy canes and all the reindeer are sick! GO SANTA GO!! I think only the double scooper triple header donkey punch trick can save CHRISTMAS 2 now!!

All the references to SUPERMAN are warranted and just. The director, Jeannot Szwarc, made the leisurely paced SOMEWHERE IN TIME and the often overlooked gay classic, SUPERGIRL. Which explains all the flying and John Lithgow's go as Lex Luthor. SCTM has the same feel as both films. Overlong, but just interesting enough. The film fails in it's sad attempt to become a holiday classic like CHRISTMAS STORY or GREMLINS or even BLACK CHRISTMAS. I can't imagine a family gathering 'round the TV to watch this film without there been genocide. Next time, Santa needs to enlist the help of the Silver Shamrock company.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Roger Ebert taught me a simple movie rule to live by. "If it's Sphinx, it stinks!" This refers to the Hollywood Pictures logo of said sphinx. A sub division of Touchstone Pictures, which was owned by Disney so they could make rated R movies and give Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson something to do in the early 1990's.

I love Hollywood Pictures movies and I think I have seen every single one of them now. There was roughly 26 total. They ranged from freely adapted versions of THE SCARLET LETTER (complete with witchcraft and native Americans and nudity!) and the much beloved Dolly Parton vehicle, STRAIGHT TALK. It is a treasure trove of classic BadMovieArt films, but my favorite has got to be GUILTY AS SIN otherwise known as GUILTY AS SHIT!

I don't really know why I keep coming back to this movie. It is not good. In fact, it is quite boring. Billed as an erotic thriller, GUILTY AS SHIT is neither erotic nor thrilling, though it tries. There is something that keeps pulling me back into repeat viewings of this film. I have owned it at least three times. I keep losing it! It is like my soul is trying to will it out of my life, but my urge to watch it is too powerful. The interesting thing about GUILTY AS SHIT is that it is not a film I can start and turn off halfway through. It almost challenges you to finish it. Taunting you in its boring-ness. Daring you to stay for the final five minutes, which is pure gold, i tell ya!

The storyline isn't any we haven't seen before. Street smart/fresh out of night school/ball busting lawyer gets the case of a lifetime. If she can win this case, then she will get cred and be able to give a big FUCK YOU to all the males that have overrun the firm where she works. But is her client really innocent or.......let's all say it together....GUILTY AS SHIT?!!!

Sidney Lumet had the unfortunate job of trying to make something out of this film, which reeks of producers giving their two cents and conceited actors wanting to do their own thing. Very early into the film, it seems that Lumet just put up a stationary camera and went on long lunches and let the assholes fend for themselves. He has directed a ton of my favorite movies, like THE FUGITIVE KIND, NETWORK, THE WIZ and quite possibly the best movie EVER made, DOG DAY AFTERNOON. Every time I go to Bank of America or even worse Chase to pay my credit card bill, I just envision going all Dog Day Afternoon on their ass, when they ask me if I want to sit down with a rep and talk about opening a checking account. God, if Carol Kane only worked at the West Seattle branch of Chase, I totally would open a checking account there! Don't get me started on DDA.... I do love the use of real locations, filmed in and around Chicago (but looks like Vancouver B.C. for some reason) and tries to give it some true grit, but it ends up looking like dirt instead.

So if the director is checked out, then the film really needs to rely on a strong screenplay (penned by IT'S ALIVE and THE STUFF's genius Larry Cohen) and two extremely talented actors in the leads. Once again, unfortunately, the film has neither. The plot is just a recycling of films we have seen before, like JAGGED EDGE, SUSPECT and NUTS. When the acting in NUTS is better than your film you have a problem.

In the role of Jennifer Haines, lady lawyer extraordinaire, Rebecca De Mornay comes off as a completely insane person. She just stares at everyone with her "Peyton Flanders" eyes. She seems like she is going to viciously whisper in every one's ear, "I'll break your fucking arm!" at any moment. So when the film, takes a "twist" and the focus becomes of her being a victim of manipulation and seduction, you just don't buy it. She is too much of a bad ass. For god sake, SHE forces her late eighties Robert Reed looking BF( played by now super buff Stephen Lang from AVATAR) into giving HIM a blow job in the first nine minutes of the movie. She also eats Chinese food with him after they have sex. He is nude. It's uncomfortable. It's very UN-erotic and this is coming from someone who LOVES to eat Chinese take out after sex, but I usually don a pair of pants. I don't blame Rebecca though. She kicked around Hollywood forever taking shit second leads and having to show her tits in movies like RUNAWAY TRAIN and RISKY BUSINESS, before becoming a household name with her breakthrough film THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE. I fucking love THTRTC.

The REAL problem with GUILTY AS SHIT is her male counterpart, Mr. Don Johnson. Fucker of Melanie Griffith, Babs Streisand and allegedly D. Ross, his sexual prowess he exudes for more than a decade is gone. It is not to said that he is not sexy, but just not in this film. He is supposedly a male 'ho that marries unsightly and ungodly rich women and maybe murders them. The role calls from someone a touch younger. I am not an ageist, but it is impossible to buy his smooth talking ways without laughing out loud. I guess it was too early for the days of the cougars that we are use to now and it could also be that the early 90's were a rough time for men's fashion. Everything became bulkier. All of Johnson's suit look huge and ill fitting and his TAN is out of control! He is too tan! And I like the too tan look, but this is borderline burnt orange and looks like tan make-up, not the tanning bed look. Is Tan Face offense? Not to be overshadowed by De Mornay's Crazy act, he tops her. Every single moment he is on screen, he is acting like a crazy person! Someone call Whitfield STAT!!

The film has many lines like, "He's gorgeous" or "So handsome!" and other lines about how beautiful Johnson is. I swear he wrote the thing himself. And don't get me wrong, there was a time when I lusted after Don Johnson hardcore. It wasn't his douchey turn in Miami Vice, but the white hot sizzler of a mini-series of the late 80's, THE LONG HOT SUMMER! SIZZLE!!!

So there is suppose to be all the sexual tension between De Mornay and Johnson. I guess there is. I mean, she isn't getting eaten out while busting out lights in a dirty parking lot or dripping candle wax on his chest, but she does sharpen her ever growing collection of No. 2 pencils on her desk, while he talks to her. She also drinks a lot of coffee, but it's just acting, cuz you can see into the cup and there isn't anything there. OH! There is a super sexy scene of Don Johnson making a sandwich and waving a knife at her, while spreading tons of mayo all over the place. Well, RDM has had it and she tries to get the court to let her out of defending him, because he won't stop acting like a nut, but alas, she is stuck with him. As the cat and mouse games continue, she decides to "GET HIM BEFORE HE GETS ME!!"

This sets in motion a battle of the crazies. They keep one upping each other is very boring ways. When RDM finds clues that could lead to his conviction and blow her case, does she cover it up and use it to "GET HIM BEFORE HE GETS ME!!"? The trial lingers and Johnson charms the jury, so when they are out for a week and comeback with a hung jury, he is pleased. As the court empties out, they have another crazy off, with Don Johnson in the witness stand (he was sad he never got to take the stand during the case) and RDM grills him. All sexy of course. One of my favorite erotic thriller lines is uttered, " Killing with gloves on is like fucking with a rubber." TRUE. RDM's lip quiver and she is out the door. At this point, the viewer has been through it. And if you have made it this far, then you reward is MASSIVE!

RDM is once again, walking around alone and as she walks down the hallway of her high rise condo building, Johnson is lurking in the shadows. A fight ensues...and you get a good RDM stunt double, a real life RDM hanging over a ledge and a brain splatter er of an ending! CREDITS ROLL!!! It is such a fucking awesome ending, you realize why you sat through the whole thing to begin with!

GUILTY AS SHIT is not an easy film to muddle through and if you are faint of heart or get bored quickly, you shouldn't attempt it. But if you like a leisurely paced, un sexy erotic thriller, then I cannot think of a better film to waste an evening on!

****OF NOTE*****
Roger Ebert proves that GUILTY AS SHIT is the exception to his rule, because the movie poster boost TWO THUMBS UP! One of those thumbs was attached to Ebert.

Friday, December 10, 2010


I only remember one thing about being in the fourth grade. The sheer torture of having to wait until the June 8 for Gremlins to come to the theater. That last half of the school year was not easy for my parents, because I was consumed with Gremlins. It was all I talked about. It was all I thought about. I would sit in church, dreaming of how the movie would play out, because the trailers were so fucking amazing at not showing the monsters. All I knew was that it was going to be scary and it was rated PG and there wasn't a thing my parents could do to stop me from seeing it. And the best part was that they also knew it. My mom actually went out and bought me a GREMLINS tee shirt, which i promptly wore for two solid months and is well documented in tons of photos from the era. I do believe that once I wore it three days in a row, but I realized my obsession was on the brink of mass hysteria, so I changed clothes. As June 8Th grew near, the pressure started building. Would it be as awesome as my daydreams and nightmares were making me think it was going to be, or would I be another victim in the Hollywood hype machine? There was only one way to find out.

What transpired the evening of June 8, 1984 would go down in the history books of my cinematic adventures and I consider it the grandest night out to a movie EVER! Having prepped myself by reading the kiddie movie novelization (missing tons of scares and the infamous Phoebe Cates Santa story) AND having read the official movie tie-in book (including all the scares and the horrible Santa story), I was well prepared for the movie on opening night. But I could not have even asked for the drama and real life scares that would happen the night I went to see it. This was the first night at PICAYUNE CINEMA FOUR would be opening it's doors and GREMLINS was to be one of the first films to play there. I was PUMPED!!! No more shitty Mississippi Mall theater, which always played a PG movie and a rated R movie and limited my movie going experience on the weekends when films would run for longer than a week. Luckily, TEMPLE OF DOOM was playing, so it satisfied my weekend viewings there. If you were from Picayune, Ms you know all about Mississippi Mall. It consisted of a dirty old department store called Murphy Mart, a greasy spoon diner (where my grandmother worked for years!), a pet store that usually had dead animals in it and a creepy shoe store that my mother refused to go in. It was a lovely place to drop you kids off for two hours, unsupervised. But with the construction of Picayune Cinema Four, old Mississippi Mall was done! This was brand spanking new and cleaned up! It was like movie heaven! Four movies at one time instead of two! Heaven I tell ya!

The film started at 7pm and I was already hounding my mother about our time frame. I wanted to arrive early so I could stare at the marquee for a little while, then get my popcorn and coke and get a seat. Around four o clock that afternoon, the sun disappeared and it started to rain like crazy! Thunder was rolling and lightening was striking all around! I immediately panicked because I just envisioned getting situated and the lights going out. Or worse, a flood! My mother knew she had no way out of taking me to the movies and picking me up, hell or high water. Once we got there, it was madness. The parking lot had not be paved with cement yet and the entire place was a mud hole. People were everywhere! Kids falling down in the mud, cars getting stuck and lots of tears! My mom refused to pull into the mud trap and dropped me off on the road, telling me she would pick me up at later that evening at nine o clock at the same spot. I was not to leave the theater lobby until I saw her car. I climbed out, with rain pelting my face and started my journey through the mud. It was exciting! A grand adventure for sure. I safely made to the box office with mud covering my shoes and ankles. Everyone was in the same condition as I and the once inside the theater it was total chaos. I had never been to a movie that was this busy before. Once I had gone to see ET and it was crazy, but I was with my grandmother. This was something totally different. I had been going to the movies by myself for about a year now, but this was the SHIT!!!

Armed with my concessions, i managed to grab an aisle seat and just waited. Nervously, trying not to eat all my popcorn I scanned the crowd. It was a mixture of little kids with their parents and tons of my school friends older siblings. One stopped by and asked me if I was alone. I replied, "Yes" and she asked me if I wanted to come sit with her friends. I mulled it over and thought why the fuck not? She sat me down right between her and her best friend. Both remarked on my Gremlins shirt. I was the only one with one. I smiled and tried really hard not to be nervous and act like a fresh out of fourth grader. It was not a simple task. Thankfully, the movie started......and my life changed forever.

With thunder booming outside and everyone packed into their seats, I totally forgot that the movie was set during Christmas. Reading it is one thing, but actually seeing snow and Christmas everywhere during the summer made GREMLINS even more fun! Why wait til the holiday season, just release it as a summer movie! No Problem. Then it happened. I fell in love. Pure and simple. Sandwiched between two teen girls, I sat there in awe of Zach Galligan, the hunkiest dreamboat I had ever laid my eyes on.
He instantly became one of my style icons and firmly remains one to this day. From his cut off sweatshirts to his big red puffy winter coat, he looks good the entire length of the movie. Let's not forgot the HOT shirtless scene! WOW! I wish I worked at a bank like Billy Peltzer. I wish I had a VW bug that wouldn't start in the snow! I wish I had a dog that I could take to work with me! What a wonderful life indeed! And if the movie wasn't good enough, we fucking get FLO from Alice. The moment, Miss Deagle graces the screen, you instantly hate her. She yells cars, threatens to kill dogs and openly mocks the poor. What an evil bitch! You know her days are numbered. She is a great villain!

Later that night, Billy is given the gift of the Mogwai and instantly sets out to break all the instructions his father has given him. Like all kids with a new toy, it is only a matter of time before it is damaged. Everything you ever loved or hated about Christmas flashes before the scene, as Joe Dante sets in motion a timeless tale of responsibility and mass consumerism. On a grand level, GREMLINS is a scathing social look at the effects of giving into greed and black Friday sales. On a not so grand scale, it is just a fun movie that sets out to overload you on cuteness then scare the shit out of you. The entire film is painted in overdone holiday decorations. From the poorest side of town to the main street of Kingston Falls, blinking colored lights set the night ablaze in a wash of candy coated, sugar plum fairy dreams, but with brilliant use of product placement (I love Burger King more than McDonald's simply because of this film). The movie is a love letter to monsters, comic books, boy adventurers and Phoebe Cates.

There are so many things to love about GREMLINS, but I am going to stick to just two of my favorite parts. One of my many, many outstanding moments in the film is the monologue by Cates character, Kate Beringer. Billy's co-worker at the bank and main love interest, Kate seems like an angel and she looks like one too!
But she uses her beauty and sweetness as a mask to hide all the pain she feels during Christmas. She hints at it earlier in the movie when she exclaims, "While people are opening their presents, others are opening their wrist. Say you hate Washington's Birthday or Thanksgiving and nobody cares, but say you hate Christmas and you get treated like a leper!" Billy's reaction to this is like most people, he smiles and nods and ask her out on a date! SO ROMANTIC!! She, naturally, agrees! Later in the film when she has been forced to serve the evil gremlins beer and peanuts, she escapes with Billy and Gizmo to the ransacked bank and spill her horrible Christmas secret. What is amazing about this scene, is that it is played completely serious. the first time I saw it, I cried and so did the teen girls I was sandwiched in between at the movies. Later, on repeat viewing, I discovered the magic of this film and became a full on Phoebe Cates lifer! And let's not forget her amazing turn in LACE! And any reason to talk about LACE is fine with me.

Next up, is the scene that changes every one's life when they see it. I like to call it YOUR MOM BATTLES GREMLINS! There are many,many great moms in the movies. JoBeth Williams in Poltergeist, Dee Wallace Stone in Cujo and The Lost Boys, but no one even compares to Frances Lee McCain's portrayal of Lynn Peltzer. See cries while watching It's A Wonderful Life, makes crappy Christmas cookies and will do anything to protect her family and her kitchen! A veteran actor of the stage and screen, Frances makes us believe for five minutes that our mom could take on Gremlins if it came down to it. She embodies every single woman who has had to put up with a nutty husband and a "should be living on his own" son. She went deep with her character and as you watch the sequence of her battling the Gremlins, you feel like it is your own MOM doing it. Seriously, wouldn't it be awesome of your mom fought off Gremlins? This is also the point, when Dante takes it to the next level and shows you just how far he can extend the PG rating. The suspense is overwhelming. You cannot help but cheer as she takes them down one by one and she almost single handily stops the spread of the Gremlins, but that darn STRIPE!!! Let it be stated that Frances Lee McCain should be placed in movie history as BEST MOVIE MOM EVER! She demands applause and rebel rousing as she screams, "GET OUT OF MY KITCHEN!!"

Of course the real star of the film is Gizmo. With all of his cooing and singing, there isn't a moment that you just don't want one yourself. Everything that is sweet and wonderful about life and the universe at large is Gizmo. He will be your best friend, you confidant and when push come to shove, he will protect you at any cost. But as with most wonderful things, sometimes you have to be weary of such wonder. It always has a price. A price that is worth it, if you can only follow the rules. But it's hard.
Accidents happen. Water gets spilt. Food eaten after midnight and bright lights shone in their faces. It is bound to happen. The rules are too simple to NOT break. And Gizmo in a Barbie car is TOO SWEET! The scene when he drives past Barney the dog and honks the horn is one of the funniest movie moments in a monster movie.

After the film was over, I was completely spent. The opening night audience was cheering and yelling at the end. I remember the girls I was sitting with, asking me if I liked it and I kept saying, "I loved it! I loved it!" TRUE STORY. As we were leaving, I was caught up in buzz of the exiting crowd. It ranging from "DISGUSTING!" to "BEST MOVIE EVER!" to tears of horror. As I waited in the lobby for the sight of my mother's car to come bounding up through the STILL pouring rain, I thought about how I would spend the rest of the weekend at Picayune Cinema Four. Matinees started tomorrow and they were pretty cheap and I had enough money saved up to do that. And then I started thinking about how to get my hands on my own Gizmo. I finally saw my mom pull up on the side of the street and I have to trample through the mud once again to get to her car. Once inside and on the road home, my Gremlins high was starting to wear off and she asked me did I like it. I instantly started crying and told her it was one of the scariest movies I had ever seen!!! I didn't sleep for two days and I never got to see GREMLINS in the theater again. Thank god for home video!

Decades later I still hold GREMLINS near and dear to my heart. It truly is a timeless masterpiece that captures a moment in American cinema where kids were getting exposed to films that really should have been geared toward adults. I feel so fortunate to be alive and at the right age for Joe Dante's message to actually mean something to me. And as I grew older I realized that many of his interest that he used as reference points in GREMLINS would become fabrics in my life. But Gremlins isn't all fun and games. Gremlins teaches kids some hard truths. But it also teaches you some valuable lessons. Like if you want to get something done, you better be willing to do it yourself or it won't get done. Always be brave. Always be kind. Always listen to others. And always get yourself a Gremlin of some sort! All my life I wanted a little critter to go on adventures with, but my parents refused me this joy.
But now I have my own Gremlin!

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Glamour! Glamour! We scream for it nowadays. Everyone is glamorous now, but back in the day not everyone was so lucky. There are a few that could give you exactly what you deserve. One of my favorites is Joan Crawford. Sister brought it to the table and served it right up to you mouth. Watched you eat it and then turned and walked the fuck out. That is how you do it. One of the best examples of how glamour does not age, was her BIG 1953 Technicolor dream masterpiece musical, TORCH SONG.

Jenny Stewart has one goal in life and one goal only. That is to be a complete bitch! She has somehow managed to become a beloved Broadway star. Fans of all ages clamor to be near her. Whenever she leaves the stage door, she is mobbed by adoring teens! She loves having teen fans. After her manager tries to shoo them and their play bills away, Jenny barks, "Always be kind to your fans!" TRUE! ARE YOU LISTENING WHITNEY HOUSTON!

The movie plops us right down in the last few weeks of rehearsal for Jenny's big sensational comeback simply entitled, "An Evening With Jenny". SIGN ME UP! It promises to be a night filled with dancing, singing and a couple of jaw-dropping (and racist) musical numbers. Miss Stewart does not accept lukewarm co-stars and eats them for lunch. She shames the male lead in front of everyone when he cannot hit the marks in their not so complicated dance number. She pushes him aside, pops out her leg and growls, "You want to step over my leg?!". As she moves her hand down her fishnet limb, she adds, "And spoil that line?!". I'm on her side.

But not all is right in Jenny Stewart's universe. She is growing older by the second her and is starting to realize her name just doesn't seem to draw the audience like it use too. That means she has to work harder, look better and bitch out anyone who comes near her. When told that tickets sales for "A EVENING WITH JENNY" are down, she exclaims, "NO SHOW OF JENNY'S IS A FLOP!!" I'm on her side. At home in a penthouse overlooking NYC, all she does is stand around, smoke and look good! Jenny's bedroom is larger than my modest condo, but just as glamorous. It is lonely at the top and Jenny Stewart wants more out of life. Mainly she wants a good man, but she just can't seem to stop bitching out every single person she meets! COMPLEX!

One afternoon, free of those pesky rehearsals, she is hard at work on her designs. Yes, she is a fashion designer! Sketches everywhere. All the ashtrays filled and not an empty glass of booze in the place, we get to meet her playboy/best friend/token gay. She refers to him as completely useless, but beautiful, which is true. She goes on and on about her life and how devoid it is of love. But, life has a surprise in store for Miss Jenny Stewart. Back to the stage, she bitches out the piano player for being a total fuck up, which he is and she is introduced to the new piano player. Enter Michael Wilding as Tye Graham. He is a phenom at tickling the ivories and he is BLIND!! Dog and cane and all!!! And he doesn't give a fuck when Jenny Stewart tries to bitch him out. He give her the WHAT, WHAT and fucking quits!! She rallies him back in, but has to be nice. And then it happens. With a one and a two...something happens in a Joan Crawford movie that stunned me. She opened her mouth to sing. The beautiful ballad, "FOLLOW ME". Out comes the voice of India Adams. India no stranger to being the voice behind someone else (she had previously sung for Crawford in Johnny Guitar and Cy Charisse in Band Wagon). It is kinda shocking at first, but once you settle into it, it is hilarious! And the best part is that Jenny Stewart TOTALLY DESERVES IT! After this soul shattering episode, he turns to Tye and states, "Feels Good." That it does.

So now that Jenny Stewart has finally got a good pianist and worked all the kinks out of her supporting cast, she is just about ready to open the show. And if you thought you had seen it all, hold onto your dancing belt, because you get treated to one of the most nerve wrecking moments in movie history. It's dress rehearsal and the shit is about to go down. The drums start. The dancers take to the stage. But something is off. On not so close inspection, the dancers are not black, but in black face. And black hand if you are counting. Viewers of the day might not have even batted an eye at the time, but today is is super weird. I actually kind of hate looking at the dancers. Very Song of the South bullshit. Then Jenny Stewart appears and starts her big production number of "Two Faced Woman". Clever. If you think racism is clever. It's not. I can't even tell you what happens or how the song goes, because I can't stop staring at Jenny Stewart's face! At the end of the number, Jenny ascends a flight of stairs and rips off her wig to reveal a bright orange FRIGHT WIG! AACK!!


The movie kicks right back in, like nothing happened and we are at a party scene. Jenny Stewart basically spends the last 20 minutes of the movie yelling at Tye. HEY JENNY!!! You are yelling at a blind dude! She gets pissed when he tries to do his own arrangements and barks, "DON"T STEAL MY SPOTLIGHT!" and the seeing eye dog hates her guts. He is always barking at her and trying to jump on her. Dogs know. But we are suppose to learn that Jenny Stewart is a flawed hero of sorts. Tye loves her because she is very frank about his blindness and never feels sorry for him. She loves him because he can't see her and doesn't love her just for her looks (!!!!). He refuses to adore her and she doesn't give a fuck if he is blind. A match made in hell for sure. BAD ROMANCE. They get over some shit and "An Evening With Jenny Stewart" opens to a packed house and she bumps it like a trumpet as she lip syncs another beautiful low tempo ballad called "You Won't Forget Me". Fade to black. Thankfully, not fade to black face.

TORCH SONG was made in the height of Joan Crawford's 8 millionth come back. She was unstoppable. She followed this with the western classic JOHNNY GUITAR and FEMALE ON THE BEACH. Always a work horse, Joan Crawford served up FACE like you have never seen it served before. Even if she did it in black face once. ACK!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I like a movie that gets right down to it. I don't need some big build up and a bunch of boring credits titles. I like a movie that will just plop you down and get it STARTED. In the first two minutes you are tossed an Indy Jones wanna-be set piece, tons of people getting stabbed by swords, but not drawing any blood. Then, you have a dude scream, "I'll HAVE MY REVENGE!" I hated the first one, avoid the third and fourth, but I could no longer ignore Volume 2 in the DEATHSTALKER series.

I love this movie poster. Talk about selling a movie! A little something for everyone. It reminds of the VACATION movie poster. And P.S. the cast doesn't look like the two people on the poster. THEY ARE EVEN HOTTER in the movie! Get your swords ready!!

Jim Wynorski, the mastermind behind the ICONIC film CHOPPING MALL, brings us one of the most entertaining and most fun entries into the DEATHSTALKER series. Filmed on a small budget and dusty set pieces that look to be filmed around Italy, he treats the film like it is a big budget extravaganza with a cast full of heavenly stars. But lucky for us, he is in on the joke. Play it for yuks and it would fail. Play like you are serious and you SCORE! We are quickly introduced to Reena the Seer, played by the very charming Monique Gabrielle. Monique is not afraid to show her boobs and does so just to let you know she will. I always think it is smart to show boobs right off the bat, because that ensures straight boys will watch the whole movie, because if there is a nip slip once, there usually will be one again. Gabrielle comes from the Kate Capshaw TEMPLE OF DOOM school of acting. Just shriek a lot and always play dumb. As a Seer, she isn't very good. To be able to see the future, she can't seem to tell what is going on. She gets called Princess of the Beggars and captured and told that she will get a good beating if she DESERVES IT! She doesn't!!

Happily, help comes in the form of DEATHSTALKER! He comes as a gum smacking, wise ass hottie played by none other than JOHN TERLESKY!!! Who lucky can we get?!!! He stomps in, kicks ass and before saving the Reena, he ask her why he should even bother and barks, "I'm listening!" Then after she explains, he replies, "FIGURES!" smacks his gum and saves her ass.

So for some reason the evil Princess Evie, Monique Gabrielle pulling double duty, wants DeathStalker and The Seer both dead and sends out some assassins to kill them. Deathstalker needs to get Reena home or something and they run across a spooky graveyard shrouded in fog and tombstones. Of course, zombies emerge from the graves and DeathStalker has to kick major ass!
The zombies kinda stand around and wait to get killed, but it is all pretty awesome. If you are familiar with CHOPPING MALL, you will notice that the same background music used when the KilBots roam the mall, is played throughout DeathStalker. I ain't complaining. The assassins show up and are able to capture both Reena and DeathStalker!

Now we discover that not only does Princess Evie look marvelous, but she is also a CANNIBAL and has a couple of Amazon women as her maids in waiting and they will do anything to protect the Princess. Reena is tossed in jail and Deathstalker is put on trial and forced to wrestle Queen Kong, the amazon championship wrestler, played by Dee Booher! The movie turns from insanity to completely insanity, as Terlesky is stripped of all his clothes, sans a loincloth and tossed around the ring for a good ten minutes. All the while smacking his gum and making smart ass comments. GENIUS.

After barely managing to escape Queen Kong, DeathStalker has to battle John La Zar (of Samurai Cop) playing an baddie sorcerer, then has to go face to face with Princess Evie herself, as she morphs into a full on DEMON PRINCESS!! The big finale is so action packed that if you look away you will miss something amazing! We have a marriage, a misplaced erection, the alchemy of strobe lights and Monique Gabrielle having to battle herself in a princess vs princess throw down! CREDITS ROLL!

If that weren't enough, once the movie ends, you get some great bloopers. I am not a be fan of bloopers during the end credits of a movie unless it is SCHINDLER'S LIST or BELOVED, but DeathStalker 2 has a great montage of the cast fucking up lines and walking into things.

My entire life I have shied away from the Sword and Sorcery genre of the early 80's, besides BEASTMASTER and RED SONJA (both masterpieces in their own right) and I never thought I would be interested in watching another one, but leave it to John Terlesky to show me the error of my ways!