Saturday, November 30, 2013

Jedi Junkies (2010)

Director: Mark Edlitz

Writer: ???

Composer: ???

Starring: Ray Park, Peter Mayhew, Jeremy Bulloch, Olivia Munn and tons of fans and collectors

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The force is strong with them

Plot: A film about the world's most dedicated Star Wars fans. From lightsaber wielding martial arts academies to a filmmaker who built the world's only life-size Millennium Falcon, from a Monster Garage-esque sculptor whose professional livelihood is building custom lightsabers to metal-bikini wearing dancers who embody Slave Leia, the film offers viewers a rare glimpse into rabid fans' personal and professional self expression that borders on obsession.

My rating: 6/10 (I'd go a little lower but I'm a Star Wars fan so they get one point just for that)

Will I watch it again? No.

In an effort to show the different areas of dedication that Star Wars fans have, it's a decent start but it's not as good as it should have been.  Too much time, for example, was spent on a group of folks building a life size Millennium Falcon and that's just one of a few times they over extend their welcome.  The trouble is, it's hardly a full scale ship and it's pretty shabby.  I'm not saying I could build a better one (maybe) but the film makers shouldn't have spent so much time with it.  JJ is a fan film about fans, and for that it succeeds but it falls short of having long-lasting appeal, enough to want to watch it again.  Someday someone will bring us the epic, instant classic, film about fans that will be engaging, funny and filled with the love that a lot of us share for the Star Wars universe.  It's currently on Netflix instant and it's only 75 minutes so it's easy to digest.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Harper Valley P.T.A. (1978)

Directors: Richard C. Bennett, Ralph Senesky

Writers: George Edwards, Barry Schneider

Composer: Nelson Riddle

Starring: Barbara Eden, Ronny Cox, Nanette Fabray, Louis Nye, Audrey Christie, Ron Masak, John Fiedler, Susan Swift, Pat Paulsen, Bob Hastings, Fay DeWitt, J.J. Barry, Royce D. Applegate, Irene Yah-Ling Sun, Clint Howard

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  The song was scandalous. The movie is hilarious!

Plot: Stella Johnson is a single mother living in the town of Harper Valley. Now most of the townspeople, particularly on the PTA board, think that she is a little too liberal and liberated for them, so they are making things tough for her and her daughter. When the PTA board threaten to have her daughter expelled unless Stella changes her ways, she decides to get back at them by first exposing all their hidden secrets and then pulling all sorts of humiliating pranks on them. When she decides to run for the position of PTA President, they are really infuriated and try to stop her any way they can.

My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again? The committee says no.

If you remember the popular country tune this film is based on then you know the story.  It's far from hilarious as the tagline suggests.  Surprise.  I don't think I laughed once.  It's kind of cheap in the way it feels like a TV movie or TV show which is funny because as I'm writing this I notice that this is one of two films directed by George Edwards.  Everything else he did was in television.  The music is cheap.  I'm shocked that Nelson Riddle is responsible.  He should know better.  If you weren't sick of the song made popular by Jeannie C. Riley before watching this then you will be after.  It's the opening and closing song but you also hear the tune far too much during the film and it's disgusting how much this picture is soaked in it.  I know the movie exists because of the song but it gets old.  Barbara Eden is fun but most of the performances are over the top and often annoying. I don't think I laughed once.

Who would ever think that horseshit would have its own credit?

But for me there is a bright side that I will never forget.  In 1978 my family went to the drive-in theater.  My parents saw this and they made my sister and I watch CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977).  They were watching P.T.A. on the screen behind us.  They told us to keep our eyes forward and not watch P.T.A. because it's for the adults.  Well naturally that's an invitation to disobey orders and so we did.  The only scene I remember was the one with the pink elephants.  Everything else I recall is from watching CEOTTK (what a wonderful experience it was, too).  I'm pretty certain that this wasn't the first time I saw it but it's the one I remember most.  I loved it (CEOTTK, that is) and I loved that it was at the drive-in, sitting in those cheap, fold up nylon-weaved chairs.  Wow.  35 years ago...

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970)

Director: Frank Perry

Writers: Sue Kaufman, Eleanor Perry

Composer: no score

Starring: Carrie Snodgress, Richard Benjamin, Frank Langella, Lorraine Cullen, Frannie Michel, Lee Addoms, Peter Dohanos, Katherine Meskill

More info: IMDb

Tagline: I, Tina Balser, Housewife, Did Not Do My Chores Today. I Did...Something Else!

Plot: Tina Balser (Snodgress) is in a loveless marriage with Jonathan (Benjamin), an insufferable, social-climbing lawyer in New York City. He treats her like a trophy, refuses to back her in disputes over the raising of their children and belittles her in public. Searching for relief, she has an affair with writer George Prager (Langella), but this only drives her deeper into despair.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? No.

This movie is fucked up.  Poor Tina.  Wow.  She's surrounded by assholes - her husband, lover, children and group therapy members.  No one is nice to her but she goes along with it as if it's par for the course.  Her husband is a cad but he's upbeat about it.  His voice practically smiles as he demeans her at every opportunity.  And their young daughters treat mommy as they see their father treat her.  It's just awful.  Richard Benjamin plays her husband in such a way that feels either like it's a comedy (which it's not although in the pain there is humor) or he's overacting big time.  Once I realized this is being told by Tina's point of view, it was clear that Jonathan is being exagerated as is everything else in the picture.  Langella does a good job but he's almost too low key even though he's also a cad, just a younger, better looking one than Jonathan.  Snodgress is fantastic and I love it when she finally starts asserting herself.  There's one thing that I didn't realize until the end but there's no music score.  The first time Tina and George have sex, it's awfully quiet.  There was no music or dialogue.  It's fantastic albeit brief.  I would have liked the scene to last longer - not because of any nudity but that it was so nice to soak in the silence during it.

It doesn't end how you think it might.  In some way it's upbeat but then it's still a downer.  It's only after I watched the 94 minute VHS copy that I came across the above YouTube video that clocks in at 118 minutes.  Watch the longer cut.  I skimmed through it, finding a couple of things I missed.  What is added at the end with her kids is a nice little scene. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The People vs. George Lucas (2010)

Director: Alexandre O. Philippe

Writer: Alexandre O. Philippe

Composer: Jon Hegel

Starring: Gary Kurtz, Neil Gaiman, David Prowse, Anthony Waye, Sandy Lieberson, Joe Leydon, Chris Gore, Joe Nussbaum, Dale Pollock, Glenn Kenny

More info: IDMb

Tagline: Any objections?

Plot:  Star Wars fans vent their anger at George Lucas over the many and varied transgressions they perceive he has committed over the years. The complaints are threefold. Firstly, fans are upset at the digital tinkering Lucas made to the original trilogy. They are particularly upset by the fact that he refuses to release the original films along with the digitally enhanced versions. The second complaint is fan disappointment with the second trilogy: the story, the characters, changing the mythology etc...The third complaint is that he has enriched himself not only through film revenues but also from marketing everything under the sun with a Star Wars label.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? No.

After the STAR WARS prequels came out, fans of the franchise solidified their love/hate relationship with George Lucas, myself included.  He seemed like a monster out of control, a man who'd lost touch with his own vision or at least the dream he was chasing in the 1970s.  I'm in the camp that he majorly fucked up but what you can't shake is the greatness that is STAR WARS (1977) and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980) and, to a lesser effect, RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983).  THE PEOPLE VS. GEORGE LUCAS gets opinions from the fans ranging from regular Joes to professionals like Neil Gaiman.  You get to hear from many sides including Lucas (but without any interview for this film).  It's a fun film if you have a horse in this race and you're going to agree with a lot of what's said no matter where you stand on the issue.  This picture isn't out to change any minds but comfort us in that are feelings are probably justified and that we're obviously not alone.  Lucas can justify all day long about why he does what he does and he's right, but that doesn't mean we have to like it.  He built the SW universe.  It's his characters, his toys and his rules.  The bottom line is, despite how much we think he's screwed it all up, we wouldn't be having these conversations without his creating it all.  We're passionate because we fell in love with '77 and '80 and those two films shaped many of our childhood.  We'll always have Paris. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Yellow Submarine (1968)

Director: George Dunning

Writers: Lee Minoff, Al Brodax, Jack Mendelsohn, Erich Segal, Roger McGough

Composer: George Martin, The Beatles

Starring: Paul Angelis, John Clive, Dick Emery, Geoffrey Hughes, Lance Percival, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The forces of good! The forces of evil!

Plot: The Beatles agree to accompany Captain Fred in his Yellow Submarine and go to Pepperland to free it from the music hating Blue Meanies.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Maybe.

The animation is trippy.  If I were a college-age kid in '68, I could totally see myself getting high and heading into the theater for this wild experience.  You know, 'cause all the kids were doing it so I'd be forced to conform.  Anyway, it's a psychedelic ride with some Beatles voice sound alikes sitting in for the real guys although John, Paul, George and Ringo show up in a live bit at the end which is fun.  They were so playful and quick-witted.  The script is the same when it comes to the band members and their camaraderie.  There are a lot of great, under the breath, gags.  That's my favorite part outside of the great, classic songs.  I liked it but I'm not sure if I'll see it again.  Maybe if I could travel back in time 45 years...

Monday, November 25, 2013

The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967)

Director: Roger Corman

Writer: Howard Browne

Composers: Lionel Newman, Fred Steiner

Starring: Jason Robards, George Segal, Ralph Meeker, Jean Hale, Clint Ritchie, Frank Silvera, Joseph Campanella, Richard Bakalyan, David Canary, Bruce Dern, Harold J. Stone, Joe Turkel, John Agar, Alex Rocco

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A WARNING! This motion picture depicts without flinching the most shocking event of America's most lawless era...

Plot: Chicago February 14th 1929. Al Capone finally establishes himself as the city's boss of organised crime. In a north-side garage his hoods, dressed as policemen, surprise and mow down with machine-guns the key members of Bugs Moran's rival gang. The film traces the history of the incident, and the lives affected and in some cases ended by it.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Absolutely.

I LOVE the occasional narration by Paul Frees.  When you meet the principal characters he gives you a little bit of deadpan, ala DRAGNET, facts about their life and eventual death.  It's a great technique that I've never seen before and it works beautifully with this kind of picture.  Jason Robards does a fine job as Capone despite not looking an ounce like him.  For me, though, the scene-stealing performance came from George Segal as gangster Peter Gusenberg.  He's really laying it on thick but he's having fun with it.  So besides lots of gangster action and scenery chewing it's really neat that it's a Roger Corman picutre.  This is so unlike any of his other films.  The budget it larger, the subject is different and his direction is different.  And because it's a Corman picture you get some bit parts filled by the likes of Dick Miller and Jack Nicholson.  It's a fun flick and a must see for fans of Depression-era gangsters.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Space Mutiny (1988)

Directors: David Winters, Neal Sundstrom

Writers: Maria Dante, Ian Yule

Composers: Tim James, Mark Mancina, Steve McClintock

Starring: Reb Brown, John Phillip Law, James Ryan, Cameron Mitchell, Cisse Cameron, Graham Clarke, Billy Second, Rufus Swart

More info: IMDb

Tagline: There is nowhere to hide from the enemy within!

Plot: A pilot is the only hope to stop the mutiny of a spacecraft by its security crew, who plot to sell the crew of the ship into slavery.

My rating: 3/10      MS3K version: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

I didn't see this in the late 80s upon its release and I wonder how bad I would have thought it was if I had instead of waiting 25 years.  It feels like a cheap sci-fi TV show.  The effects are worse than (or at their best, on par with)  the sci-fi shows of the late 70s.  The only exceptions are the space battle footage lifted from BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (1978)The acting is bland, the direction leaves too much dead time (lots of shots of characters walking for too long, things like that) and the music is horrendously dull.  I reckon the ultra low budget was responsible for a lot of this.  The bottom line is it's pretty damn stale.  I watched the Mystery Science 3000 version which makes this flick watchable.  Some of the jokes are pretty funny, particularly the plethora of names they come up with for Dave Ryder (played by Reb Brown).  That got the most laughs I think. Even the wrap-around MS3K story was fun.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Crimes That Shook the World: Angel of Death (2009)

AKA: Crimes That Shook the World: Aileen Wuornos

Director: Kathryn Ross

Writer: ???

Composer: Malcolm Lindsay

Starring: Brian Jarvis, Tim Pigott-Smith

More info: IMDb

Plot:  From 1990-1991, Aileen Wuornos killed 7 men in Florida, earning the title of the first female serial killer.  This documentary puts together the pieces involving the hunt for the killer of these murdered men and the aftermath once they caught her.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

I love these British serial killer docs.  Nearly all of them are top-notch.  I've seen a few documentaries on Wuornos and this one is the best so far.  There's no nonsense and they don't waste time repeating anything.  They give you the facts and let the players speak for themselves, except for Wuornos 'cause, you know, she's dead.  Oops.  Spoiler alert.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Zulu (1964)

Director: Cy Endfield

Writers: Cy Endfield, John Prebble

Composer: John Barry

Starring: Stanley Baker, Jack Hawkins, Ulla Jacobsson, James Booth, Michael Caine, Nigel Green, Ivor Emmanuel, Paul Daneman, Glynn Edwards, Neil McCarthy, Patrick Magee, Richard Burton

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Dwarfing The Mightiest! Towering Over The Greatest!

Plot: On the January 22nd 1879 the British Army suffered one of its worst defeats when Zulu forces massacred 1,500 of its troops at Isandlhwana. A short time after the main battle a Zulu force numbering in excess of 4000 warriors advanced on a British hospital and supply dump guarded by 139 Welsh infantrymen. The film concentrates on this bloody 12 hour battle during which the British force, under their commander from the Royal Engineers who happened to be in the area building a bridge and happened to be senior to the infantry officer, won 11 Victoria Crosses. While taking some liberties with history the film follows reality fairly closely, including matching exactly the identities of the VC winners.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yeah.

Man it's been a long time since I saw this.  It takes a while before the battle begins but there's a sense of certain doom that fills the air until that moment.  And even then when you look at the odds of about 100 men up against 4,000...and surviving(!), it's pretty spectacular how they pulled it off.  The performances are strong although Michael Caine was odd until the action started.  After that moment he was just fine.  Nigel Green is forever a badass. Patrick Magee (as the doctor) has a moment that's too obviously preachy about the morals of killing but that's the only time the film really pounds the issue that heavily.  It should have been a quick line instead of dwelling on it, slowing the pacing down for a moment.  It's great hearing Richard Burton's voice at the top and bottom of the film and John Barry has some really nice moments with the music, especially during the battles.  You might be tempted to turn it off after the first ten minutes but stick with it.  The final two thirds is MUCH faster and has the meat of the story and all of the action.

Liane, Jungle Goddess (1956)

Original title: Liane, das Madchen aus dem Urwald

Director: Eduard von Borsody

Writers: Anne Day-Helveg, Thomas Fough, Ernst von Salomon

Composer: Erwin Halletz

Staring: Marion Michael, Hardy Kruger, Irene Galter, Peter Mosbacher, Rudolf Forster, Reggie Nalder, Rolf von Nauckhoff, Edward Tierney, Reinhard Kolldehoff, Herbert Hubner

More info: IMDb

Tagline: This is Liane...a lost child who became savage queen of a black jungle!

Plot: Researchers in the African jungle find a young white woman living with a tribe that adores her as goddess. They carry her off and proudly report to the press. It turns out that she may be Liane, the long lost daughter of the rich ship owner, Amelongen. So Toren starts civilizing her and takes her to Germany, where she, now in love with Toren, has to defend herself against accusations of legacy hunting. Will she fit into her new society?

My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

So, will she fit into her new society?  Of course not.  She belongs naked in the jungle.

The picture opens with some jungle action and we soon discover Liane (Marion Michael) in her natural habitat.  It's great watching her run around the jungle and doing her thing but nearly naked.  This is the Tarzan movie we've all been waiting for but there's a catch.  It's less than a half hour into the picture that she's 'captured' and taken to Germany to be trained to conform with society.  And, as you may have guessed, it also means wearing clothes.  Bad idea.

From here until a couple of minutes from the end this is where we are and it's dull.  It's just wrong and cruel to subject us to a film called LIANE, JUNGLE GODDESS only to minutes later pluck her from said jungle and cover those lovely A/B cups up.  By the time we get this just before the end...

it's too little, too late.  The music, however is groovy as shit with that lounge sound that's all kinds of fun.  If there were a soundtrack, I'd listen to it all the time.  But this movie, though, is a one shot at best.  There is a sequel but do I dare watch it?  Of course. 

Goodbye, Jungle Goddess, goodbye.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

Director: Francis Lawrence

Writers: Simon Beaufoy, Michael Arndt, Suzanne Collins

Composer: James Newton Howard

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Jack Quaid, Taylor St. Clair, Sandra Ellis Lafferty, Woody Harrelson, Josh Hutcherson, Paula Malcomson, Willow Shields, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Bruce Bundy, Nelson Ascencio, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Amanda Plummer

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Every revolution begins with a spark.

Plot: Katniss Everdeen has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a "Victor's Tour" of the districts. Along the way Katniss senses that a rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) - a competition that could change Panem forever.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

THE HUNGER GAMES (2012) took me by surprise.  I went in preparing for a blatant rip-off of BATTLE ROYALE (2000).  There are enough similarities between the two films to cry fowl but HG succeeds by giving us a much bigger world to play in with a lot more ideas to think about.  Now two years later we have the middle of the three films (although I'm sure they're going to follow the current trend and split the final book into two films to milk the shit out of this franchise).  It's no EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980) as far as middle stories go but it is enjoyable and a nice set-up for the next and final chapter in this series.

One thing I liked about the first film is the introduction into this distopian world and the concepts and workings of the games.  During the games themselves there was a lot of back and forth between what was going on and the in-film viewing audience's participation.  With this film you don't get that.  Yes, we're already established in the goings-on of the games but the focus is strictly on the participants and nothing else.  The performances are great.  Sutherland is superb as the baddie and it's nice to see his role expanded, Hoffman is fantastic as always, Jennifer Lawrence rocks as Katniss and so on.  Then you've got the unusual but wonderful pairing of Amanda Plummer and Jeffrey Wright as previous HG winners and current contestants.  Delightful.  And I can't leave out the outrageously fun Stanley Tucci.  I was running on little sleep when I saw the special sneak preview last night which may have lead to my lackluster enjoyment and praise of the film but at two and a half hours long, it was a lot to take.  And for a run time such as this it seemed like the story could have been told in an easy two hours.  My tired eyes could have contributed to that so I'm not going to hold to closely to that until after I see it again.  I haven't read the books so I'm not qualified to say anything to that but it's a good and worthy sequel to a good film.  I would have preferred it better executed and a bit shorter.

The War Room (1993)

Directors: Chris Hegedus, D.A. Pennebaker

Writer: None

Composer: None

Starring: James Carville, George Stephanopoulos, Heather Beckel, Paul Begala, Bob Boorstin, Michael Donnilon, Jeff Eller, Stanley Greenberg, Bill Clinton

More info: IMDb

Tagline: They Changed The Way Campaigns Are Won.

Plot: A documentary of the Bill Clinton 1992 presidential campaign and the organization who ran it.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? No.

If you're looking for a detailed "how did they pull off electing Bill Clinton into the presidency" documentary then this isn't it.  Sort of.  It's more of a fly on the wall focusing on Carville and Stephanopoulos, getting to see these two guys at work.  These two, plus Clinton, were the men the press and the world saw most during their campaign.  Carville is amazing to watch.  He's a damn fine spin doctor and it's fun seeing him at work.  Yeah, some of what he says is horseshit but a lot of it is in the selling, not the product.  It's a fun film and while you do get a sense of how they did it, it's got me wanting to see a dry, detailed film about the strategies and obstacles they had to overcome to get what they wanted.  Like the analysis of a war after it's been fought.

House of Wax (1953)

Director: Andre De Toth

Writers: Crane Wilbur, Charles Belden

Composer: David Buttolph

Starring: Vincent Price, Frank Lovejoy, Phyllis Kirk, Carolyn Jones, Paul Picerni, Roy Roberts, Angela Clarke, Paul Cavanagh, Dabbs Greer, Charles Bronson, Reggie Rymal

More info: IMDb


Plot: Professor Henry Jarrod is a true artist whose wax sculptures are lifelike. He specializes in historical tableau's such a Marie Antoinette or Joan of Arc. His business partner, Matthew Burke, needs some of his investment returned to him and pushes Jarrod to have more lurid exposes like a chamber of horrors. When Jarrod refuses, Burke set the place alight destroying all of his beautiful work in the hope of claiming the insurance. Jarrod is believed to have died in the fire but he unexpectedly reappears some 18 months later when he opens a new exhibit. This time, his displays focus on the macabre but he has yet to reproduce his most cherished work, Marie Antoinette. When he meets his new assistant's beautiful friend, Sue Allen, he knows he's found the perfect model - only unbeknown to anyone, he has a very particular way of making his wax creations.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? YES!!!

#14 on Project: Badass Charles Bronson

LEVEL OF BADASSICITY (10 being the highest): 7

This movie is all kinds of awesomeness.  I had the rare pleasure of seeing this in a theater 20 years ago IN 3D!!!!  That paddleball guy is out of sight, man, and that sequence in 3D will blow your socks off.  It's funny and cool as shit all at the same time.  Vincent Price is the man and this picture is one of his many masterpieces (he's that good so he can have several).  Carolyn Jones has no waist.  How is that possible?  Great story, great sets, great everything.  I love this flick.

Charles Bronson is the only man that could handle what evil Vincent Price had to dole out.  Bronson doesn't talk.  He doesn't have to.  His brawn and might do all the talking.  He can recite an entire Shakespeare monologue without uttering a word.  All he needs are his two fists (and that's even hotly debatable as just one would be sufficient) and some unlucky sumbitch that crosses his path to beat on.  He's amazing.  Any experienced Bronson-file can tell you which Shakespeare play his fists are pounding out (reciting) just by how he uses them on some chump's ugly mug.  Brilliant.  Yet another example of how he's one of the most underrated thespians in modern times.  He's got more to say with one grunt in this movie than Laurence Olivier did in all of Hamlet.  Prove me wrong. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Don't Mess with My Sister! (1985)

Director: Meir Zarchi

Writer: Meir Zarchi

Composer: Todd Rice

Starring: Joe Perce, Jeannine Lemay, Jack Gurci, Peter Sapienza, Laura Lanfranchi, Kit Bard, Roy Miller, Helen Perle, Janice Derosa, Pam La Testa, Norman Lars Bebell, Tamara Berman

More info: IMDb

Tagline: He'd kill for them. He may have to die for them.

Plot: Steven, a meek accountant-in-training, is living contentedly with his wife Clara and working for her brothers, managing the books at their junkyard. All of this changes when the belly dancer they hire for Steve's birthday turns out to be Anke, one of his classmates. Suddenly smitten, Steven begins to pursue Anke, who falls for him when he protects her from a overly-lecherous customer. News travels fast in a close-knit neighborhood, however, and soon Clara and her brothers find out about the illicit relationship. Pushed to the edge, Steven will have to decide between his marriage with Clara and his love for Anke.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

This is the only other film Meir Zarchi directed than I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (1978).  SPIT is one helluva exploitation picture so naturally my expectations were higher than usual and, like SPIT, it's got a great title.  It's essentially a drama that feels like it's going to have an exploitation finale, building all the way until the final confrontation between Steven and his belly dancing girlfriend against his sister and two brothers-in-law.  Without spoiling it, it's not much of a confrontation and the movie kind of ends with someone walking away from it all and roll credits.  Todd Rice provides a great electronic score that at times ranks up there with John Carpenter's best moody work.  The performances are good and the picture looks great (I watched a gorgeous widescreen print) but it's the ending that kind of left me flat.  But the more I think about it the more I like it.  This is not an exploitation action/revenge film in the traditional grindhouse sense but it is a good film.  Just don't go into it wringing your hands and salivating because this was written and directed by the same dude that did I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE.  If you can separate that then you're likely to dig this film.

They Live (1988)

Director: John Carpenter

Writers: Ray Nelson, John Carpenter

Composers: John Carpenter, Alan Howarth

Starring: Roddy Piper, Keith David, Meg Foster, George 'Buck' Flower, Peter Jason, ramond St. Jacques, Jason Robards III, John Lawrence, Susan Barnes, Sy Richardson, Wendy Brainard

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  You see them on the street. You watch them on TV. You might even vote for one this fall. You think they're people just like you. You're wrong. Dead wrong.

Plot: A drifter discovers a pair of sunglasses that allow him to wake up to the fact that aliens have taken over the Earth.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Absolutely.

"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I'm all out of bubblegum."

This is loads of fun.  Not only is it great sci-fi but there's plenty of action and humor.  The fight between Nada (Piper) and Frank (David) is six minutes of epic.  Parker & Stone aped it in the Cripple Fight episode of SOUTH PARK a bunch of years ago.  I didn't see this picture until years later and it was wild realizing it as it was happening.  The special effects of the 'glasses on' reality are great.

Roddy Piper does a great job considering he was largely a non-movie actor coming into it with few credits.  I saw this picture knowing nothing about it.  I don't think I even saw the trailer until after.  And John Carpenter's output in the '80s is nothing short of remarkable.  Great stuff.