Sunday, September 12, 2021

Is That a Banana in Your Pocket?





Come one, come all! See cardboard buildings demolished with a single swipe! Thrill to a gigantic ape doing an interpretive dance to the soundtrack! Look in awe at cheesy attempts at 3d effects from a film that isn't actually filmed in 3D!  Be astounded by the numbers of fleeing citizens that are able to pack the back end of a pickup or a bus!






A*P*E (1976)

In 1976 one pf the big blockbusters from Hollywood was Dino DeLaurentis' remake of the classic King Kong.  As per usual, there was production of cheesy low-budget knockoffs that attempted to cash in on the blockbuster, and this being no exception, a company in Korea tried to beat DeLaurentis to the punch.  Hence A*P*E.  

A*P*E had all the elements of King Kong (except production values, special effects, good name actors, etc.)  The biggest name on this film was actually Joanna de Verona (who later made her name as Joanna Kerns).  This was her first feature film (and apparently her last).  She must have been so devastated by the film that she transitioned to TV and for most of the rest of her career was only in TV productions.  Her big role was as the mom in the TV series Growing Pains.

A*P*E starts out whiz bang as the title character is already captured and being transported as the show pony (ape) for an attraction in a theme park.  The people on the boat transporting the ape are confident that the drugs used to keep the ape subdued will last for 5 0r 6 days.  (boy are they wrong.)

The ape escapes in the water and does battle with a large shark (a la Jaws) then goes ashore where he begins to demolish every cardboard building in site. The US Army, led by Col. Davis (Alex Nicol) originally doubts the rumors of a giant ape, then dismisses it as being some publicity stunt being done by a local film production company.

The film company is on hand with its current star Marilyn Baker (De Verona/Kerns).  Marilyn's lover, a reporter named Tom Rose (Rod Arrants) is on hand as a romantic interest and the resident hero.  





Eventually both the Americans and the Korean army are convinced that the ape is real and make attempts to try to capture it before it destroys the entire cardboard countryside.



Of course, since this movie is trying to cash in on the blockbuster, the ape eventually finds and falls in love with Marilyn and captures her.  Leaving Tom to try to rescue his enamorata as best he can.

About a third of the movie is watching the guy in the cheap ape suit do some kind of interpretive dance in the wilderness while being attacked by critics in helicopters who think his show ought to be shut down before it makes it through its first run.



Part of the fun in watching the film is looking for the zippers that show up occasionally in the ape suit.  Ed Wood would have been proud of how the production company made use of the films interminable scenes of found footage of Army maneuvers as scenes of the Army trying to move into position to capture/kill the ape.


There seems to be some rumor that the film was originally released in #D, but maybe it was originally intended that way but they ran out of money.  There are several scenes, especially towards the end, where things come at you on screen, Styrofoam  rocks flying at the screen and gun barrels pointed directly at the screen.

The best scene is probably the one many people have seen if they've seen anything from this movie, the ape shoots the finger at the helicopters trying to shut down his one ape dance show.

Well folks that's it for this time.  Drive safely. 


Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Joe Bob Briggs and Me

 Been a long time, folks.  This confounded crisis has taken the motivation out of me something fierce.  No, I haven't been sick, not even one day.  That might have given me the inspiration to watch a ton of movies and do reviews.  No, my problem was just an apathy for doing much of anything.  My apologies to those who have been waiting.  I plan to get going again in the next week or so on movies.  But for now I will tantalize you with a book review.

Joe Bob Briggs Goes to the Drive-In (1987) and Joe Bob Briggs Goes Back to the Drive-In (1990):

In 1982, a college friend of mine invited me to move in with him and help deliver The Dallas Times Herald to residents in a small north Texas town.  Delivering a paper a few hours a day was a nice way to earn a living back in those days.  Especially since I was entirely unmotivated to do much of any real strenuous work.

One of the benefits of delivering the paper was there was always an extra copy or two to take home.  I admit I wasn't much interested in the world at that time.  But I did enjoy reading the supplements about culture.  On Fridays the weekend section always had reviews of movies that were currently in release.  And one of the features was a section written by one of the writers, John Bloom.  He adopted a persona named Joe Bob Briggs to write about the drive-in movies of the day.

Drive-ins, in case you are a neophyte to the halcyon days of bygone years, were these monolithic venues that showed movies outdoors.   And the typical fare was not exactly Oscar material.  If you've seen some of my earlier work you know I have addressed some pretty outre movies (such as the one I wrote last year for my 5th anniversary post; Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman  and The Amazing Colossal Man).  

Drive-in movies were pretty much horror, sci-fi, and crime run rampant types of movies.  Joe Bob Briggs would review these movies, giving them a rating of 1 to 4 stars, depending on a number of elements that were present in the movies (naked breasts counts, the amount of blood that flowed, how much kung fu was used, car chases, dead body counts etc.)

The great thing about Joe Bob Briggs' column was also the insight he gave in his own private life.  None of the people were any more real than Joe Bob was (he was all in the mind of his creator, Bloom, after all.)  But the stories were funny in their own way.  You ought to know, however, that Joe Bob Briggs would probably never get in print in today's repressive PC society, however.  He even had his own run-ins with the "high sheriffs" (the editors) even in his own day.  Reading Joe Bob today is still a guilty thrill for those of us who can appreciate his wit, though.

Joe  Bob got into trouble finally with his un-PC attitude when he made some disparaging remarks and got canned at The Dallas Times Herald, but he just went underground.  He continued on as syndicated columnist for several years afterwards and even transitioned to film, hosting a midnight drive-in show on TV where they would air some of those same types of flicks on TNT.  

I used to have a letter that Joe Bob sent to me.  I wrote to him once back in 1983, and he responded with a personal letter. (For all I know it may have been a form letter he sent out to all his correspondents.  I can't remember, and I no longer have the letter; it got lost in all the moves I made over the years.)

Anyway, the two books listed above are a collection of his newspaper columns over the years that he wrote it.  You get some insight into various hangers-on in his world, including his women (Vida Stegall, Cherry Findlay, ) and his buddies (like Chubb Fricke and Rhett ).  Plus a review of a current movie in release that week that was of such quality that it could only been shown at drive-ins.  (Joe Bob called the normal fare "indoor bullstuff", ie your current Oscar eligible movies.)  Nothing at the drive-in would qualify for even being considered Oscar material.  That, of course, didn't deter Joe Bob.  He even created his own award, the Hubbies (a hubcap with the award engraved upon it) for such accomplishments as Best Breasts, Best Kung-Fu etc.

Both of these books are, sadly, out-of-print.  Amazon has copies going for hundreds of dollars each.  They are obviously collectors items.  I happen to have bought both when they were still within my budget (the list price for the first run).  And, no, before you ask, you can't borrow mine.  Although if you happen to be visiting I'm not so anal that I won't let you browse them... 

I appreciate the kinds of movies that were the steak and potatoes of Joe Bob and his regular readers. And when I finally get back to writing this blog I plan on getting back to the drive-in fare for which this blog was originally created.  In the meantime, haunt your local bookstores or more freedom minded libraries to see if you can find these gems.


Saturday, October 31, 2020

Teenage Hormones in Hyperdrive

This is my entry in the Spooky Classic Movie Blogathon hosted by K N Winiarski Writes

"Holy crap, Little Joe!  Get  a grip!"

"My God!  Pa! What are you doing with that girl?"

"Jonathan, I think we need to talk...

(NOT quoted from Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie and Highway to Heaven...)

Whether you were a fan of Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie or Highway to Heaven it's a sure bet you never saw Michael Landon get more than just a little out of sorts.  The crystal clean image we have today, for those of us who remember him, is that Michael was an inspirational character in his three notable television series.  One of his nicknames according to IMDb was "the Jesus of Malibu".  Let's face it, when those of us of a certain age think of family values as presented in Hollywood, most of us likely to picture Michael Landon.

So it probably will come as a shocking surprise that Landon got his big break in Hollywood as an angst ridden teenager in a low budget horror flick called I Was a Teenage Werewolf.   Or maybe it won't be a surprise... after all he was born on Halloween...  (I bet I caught you off guard there...  That's right.  If he were still with us, Michael would be celebrating his 84th birthday today.  OK, I didn't know it either until just now...)  But his start in Hollywood got kicked off in high gear when he was cast as the lead in that movie.

So many people got their start in the most unlikely of places (just check out some of the big names of today who had to start their careers in low budget soft core porn...)  Landon got his playing in what, in retrospect, may seem to be an odd character choice.  Certainly it would if he had played him after we had gotten used to the type of characters he played in later years.





So happy birthday to Michael in the hereafter.  This wasn't intended to be a birthday tribute, but it is now.

I Was A Teenage Werewolf (1957):

Tony (Michael Landon) is a typical young lad.  Well typical except he seems to get into a lot of fights.  And he has a hair-trigger temper.  Pop a balloon behind him and you'll likely get your block knocked off for the effort.  But besides that he is a good kid at heart.

At least he is until the grownups decide he needs to do something about his temper.  And what do most of them suggest?  Therapy.  Good old Dr. Brandon (Whit Bissell) over at the local aircraft plant supposedly can do miracles with hypnotism (hypnotherapy).

But Tony is wary of hypnosis.  After all, when you are hypnotized, they can make you do things that you really don't want to do.  You know, like jump around like a bunny rabbit, or make a fool of yourself in front of others, or even, ye gods! like, buckle down and become a good student.

But shortly after wailing on  good friend for an innocent prank at a party, Tony decides to go and see the good doctor.  Except the "good" doctor is not so good as he seems.  He gets the idea to use Tony s a guinea pig for his new theory in trying to get man to regress to his more primitive instincts.

Using a secret serum, Dr. Brandon gives Tony some gentle subconscious suggestions that ultimately turns him into a werewolf.  Talk about baser primitive instincts!  And one of the things that really sets him off (aside of his temper) is seeing a girl work out in her gymnastics outfit.   That's a pretty base primitive instinct.

When Tony realizes what is happening to him, he goes back to Dr. Brandon to try to work things out, but Brandon dismisses his fears and puts him through the therapy session again.  By now the whole town is on the lookout for Tony.  Because they recognize the outfit the werewolf wears is the same as the one Tony wears.  (I guess no one else has ever seen anyone but Tony dressed in a letterman's  jacket and jeans...)

The man hunt is on for Tony after he kills a couple of people and the story is bound to not arrive at a happy ending.  But it does leave us with one lesson learned: man shouldn't interfere with the realm of God.  (Not to mention don't trust a psychiatrist who has his own personal laboratory in the back room). 


That's it from the back seat.  Drive home safely folks.





Saturday, October 24, 2020

The 5th Anniversary of "The Midnite Drive-In"

Dateline:  Oct. 24, 2015.  The Midnite Drive-In, a somewhat part-time blog with no sense of purpose had been idle for 6 years.  Then in 2015 I discovered the inspiration that triggered a now 5 year journey to recreate the blog.  What was the inspiration?  Blogathons!  If you have been a regular reader over those 5 years you will have noticed that many of the entries were inspired by blogathons.  I am much better at writing when shoe-horned into a concept rather than just winging it.

You won't find those earlier entries in the first iteration of The Midnite Drive-In.  I erased them all.  They were pretty bad.  My initial attempt was to mimic my movie review idol, Joe Bob Briggs.  I even copied his style of injecting a fictional bunch of malcontents to hang out with.  But I lost interest, probably because I really didn't think the homage was any good.  It's best to leave those entries in the internet grave.

Joe Bob was better at it anyway.  The writer, whose real name was John Bloom, worked for years as a drive-in movie critic for The Dallas Times Herald, and his work has been collected in two books, Joe Bob Briggs Goes to the Drive-In and Joe Bob Briggs Goes Back to the Drive-In.  If you are interested in what originally inspired me to try this gig, check them out.  I have both, but since they seem to be OOP, you may have to haunt used book stores to find them.  (And, no, you can't borrow mine...:-D)

I retained some of the humor that I had tried to inject in the original entries, but I opted for some more real, personal  background to the experiences I've had watching these movies rather than with some fictional friends.  As a result, I am still interested in doing this blog, and 5 years is a milestone.  (The original Midnite Drive-In only lasted about a year, if I recall...)

So here's the deal.  I had to find movies that meant a lot to me to celebrate this anniversary.  I've been doing a lot of standard fare over the years, but the original intent, highlighting the drive-in experience, has been shoved to the side way too often.  So for this 5th anniversary I selected two movies which, although I didn't actually get to see them on a drive-in screen, exhibit much of the same themes that made the drive-in experience so great in it's heyday.  To wit:  two films about aliens, nuclear disasters and giant monsters.  Both of these movies may never have been paired at a drive-in theater, but man, what I wouldn't give to experience both as a double feature in that atmosphere... preferably with a date by my side.  (Note:  According to wikipedia, the original screenings had The Amazing Colossal Man paired with Cat Girl, and Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman  was released with War of the Satellites.  But that doesn't mean it has never been shown as a double feature in later years.  I would do it if my dream of opening a classic drive-in were to come to fruition.)

The Amazing Colossal Man (1957):

Col. Glenn Manning (Glenn Langan) and a group of soldiers are preparing for an exercise to advance into the nuclear zone after the aftershocks of the detonation of a plutonium bomb.  (In those prehistorical days right after the development of bombs, this was a standard exercise.  For more interesting looks at attitudes towards atomic bombs in those days, I highly recommend a documentary called The Atomic Cafe, which is just a collection of newsreels and educational films from the era.  It gives you some insight into the ignorance (or chutzpah) of the government's attitudes towards nuclear power.)

Anyway, Manning and crew are waiting, but something goes wrong.  The bomb does not detonate on time.  Meanwhile an unidentified and unauthorized airplane enters the forbidden zone and crashes.  Manning, against orders, tries to go to the rescue of the pilot, but while out of his bunker, the bomb does go off, and Manning is hit with full force of the blast of plutonium.  (Quite a bit more plutonium than it would take to send a modified DeLorean into the past, to be sure).

Amazingly, Manning survives the blast.  But the result of it is that he grows, day by day to astounding proportions.  And the result also affects his mind as he becomes rapidly resentful of what nature has inflicted upon him.

As Manning continues to grow, the doctors behind the scenes look for a way to return him to his normal state.  One of them succeeds in developing a serum which, when used on an elephant and a camel, reduce their size so that they fit in a cage on the tabletop of the laboratory.  So it seems that maybe they might just be able to help manning return to his normal size.


But time may be running out for the doctors.  As Manning's mind continues to deteriorate he escapes the confines of his place on the base and goes on a rampage, tearing through the desert and winding up in Las Vegas, where he proceeds to destroy Sin City.  (The casinos must've denied him credit.  After all, where would a 100 ft. giant get a viable way to earn money?)



 Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman (1958):

A rich heiress, Nancy Archer (Allison Hayes), is married to a rather emotional vacuous man, Harry (William Hudson).  Nancy is portrayed as having alcoholic tendencies and has spent some time in an institution prior to the start of this movie.  But she is out right now and travelling down a desert highway when she runs into a round satellite.

From the sitellite emerges a giant hand (that's all we see at this point) and she runs screaming back in to town to tell the news.  Of course, no one believes her, since of course everyone knows she is an alcoholic and a former mental patient.  Harry, more concerned with making time with a local chippie Honey (Yvette Vickers) is oblivious to her rantings.  The sheriff and his deputies are equally unsympathetic.

Nancy is in a love/hate relationship with Harry.  Although she despises his philandering ways she still wants him to love her.  And manages to convince him to go looking for the satellite.  But when they finally find it and a giant alien  (Michael Ross, who also was cast as Tony the bartender) emerges from it, Harry empties his gun at it and runs off, abandoning Nancy to the alien.

The authorities, as well as Nancy's butler, Jess (Ken Terrell) suspect foul play.  It doesn't help that everyone in town knows that Harry has been fooling around.  But the sheriff and his deputy run across the satellite and it's inhabitant, also discovering that the alien has commandeered Nancy's diamond necklace.  (It is suggested that the alien needs the diamond to somehow power his ship, but it isn't explained how that's possible).

As a result of contact with the alien, Nancy grows to tremendous size (eventually.  It takes almost the entire movie for this to happen).  She breaks free from her restraints and goes on her own rampage like Col. Manning from the previous entry.  But she has a goal in mind.  She's seeking out her philandering husband.

The quality of the graphics in both movies is pretty shoddy.  Because the trick of making the people look like they are of monstrous size, apparently the trick was to superimpose the image of a normal sized person against a backdrop of a significantly reduced town.  This has the effect of making the giants look somewhat transparent.  (You can sometimes see trough the giant to the background behind them.)  I understand this was in the primitive days of special effects, but it still looks a bit ridiculous sometimes.  But the story is interesting enough to hold interest.

Drive safely foks.  And keep an eye out for 50 ft people.  They may be more dangerous than they look.


Saturday, October 17, 2020

Romance in the Ranchos





This is my entry in the Jean Arthur Blogathon hosted by  The Wonderful World of Cinema




 A Lady Takes a Chance (1943):

So the movie begins with a rather fairy-tale-ish opening crawl:


Once upon a time.

It was so long ago that people drove sixty miles an hour {horrors!} And skidded their tires {I imagine so...} And ate big gobs of butter (no wonder they drove so fast and skidded tires!} And drank three cups of coffee all at once {ditto} And there were more fellows around than there were girls { yeesh!}  And everybody was having a good time without knowing it (well, maybe the girls...} That's when our story happened.  Away back then in 1938. And here's hoping that "once upon a time" goes on again some quick tomorrow (that last was an added reference to the then ongoing WWII.  This being a 1943 movie}

 First a comment.  The movie starts out with our heroine Molly (Jean Arthur) beginning a vacation on a 14 day trip across the United States on a tour bus.  I don't know if you've ever had the "pleasure" of riding a bus cross country but at least in the late '80's it was no "tour".  I once rode from south Texas to Washington D.C.  It was the worst time of my life (even though the destination was pleasurable).  It took 64 hours, including the interminable exchanges and I bet I got all of 2 hours sleep.  And here she is taking a 14 day round trip.  And apparently they were expected to sleep on the bus!

Anyway, apparently Molly is a popular girl.  She has three, count 'em three beaus show up to see her off.  All of them are anxious to have her return and maybe break down and finally be a wife.  Malcolm (Grady Sutton), Bob (Grant Withers) and Gregg (Hans Conreid) all try to one-up the other with going away presents and goodbye kisses, much to the astonishment of her ailse mate Flossie (Mary Field) who wonders why she is going away in the first place with such exhibits of manliness waiting.

The first few days are filled with the excitement of picture taking as well as the obviously uncomfortable rigors of trying to find comfortable sleeping positions on a bus.  But when she gets to the west all things go the way these romantic comedies go.  While at a rodeo she has rodeo star Duke (John Wayne) fall head over heels for her (literally, he flies off his bucking horse and lands on top of her).  With such mild first encounters blossoms love.  At least it does for Molly.  Duke, on the other hand, is just being courteous by showing her a good time, unaware of the effect he is having on her.

Eventually Duke makes the wrong move on Molly and she becomes disgusted with him.  Especially after she finds out his watch is broken and she has missed catching up with her tour bus.  Stranded she has to stay the night, but when Duke tries to take a few liberties she is offended and dismisses him.  Unfortunately she also dismisses her opportunity to tag along to the next rodeo where the tour bus will be making a stop after it starts on its return journey to New York.

Molly's on and off again infatuation with Duke causes several problems along the way, including her causing poor Duke's prized horse to become sick.  Of course it all works out in the end for the horse (it is a romantic comedy, after all) but will things work out between Molly and Duke?  Ah, there's the real question.

I have to admit this is not one of the better John Wayne movies.  He;s a bumbling fool, nothing like the he-man idol that attracted me to his movies.  I have never seen Jean Arthur before (at least not that I can recall).  But she comports herself well in the role of the lovesick female.  I guess it all depends on what your opinion of this type of movie is.  Myself I've never really been a fan of romantic comedies.

But all in all, I guess its not really all that bad.  The comedy relief supplied by Charles Winninger as Duke's sidekick Waco, as well as a brief appearance by Phil Silvers as a tour bus emcee are pretty good.  And other than the bad memories sparked by those scenes on the tour bus, I enjoyed myself.

Well folks I'm headed back to the old homestead (fortunately in my car..)  Drive safely.



Sunday, September 27, 2020

KISS in the Dark


"Check it out, man. The question you gotta ask yourself is how badly do you wanna see the greatest f*****g rock and roll show on the f*****g Earth, right? We're talking about Gene and Paul live, dog! I'm talking about the most voluptuous women hanging out in the audience. I'm talking big breasteses, and tight vesteses, my friend! You're talking people passing around joints in the audience. You're talking about f*****g Detroit Rock City, brother.  "  -Detroit Rock City


 When I was growing up there were plenty of rockers in my school.  Although I was raised on country music and grew up listening to Willie and Waylon and the boys, I was aware of the existence of both pop and rock music.  I admit that early on I had some apprehension for some of the more hard core stuff.  You have to remember I was raised in an evangelical church which preached that most of the music of the world was the spawn of the Devil.

One of my earliest recollections of experiencing rock music was hanging out with some seniors when I was a freshman.  The guy whose car we were in had a collection of sme serious hard core tapes of bands like AC/DC, Black Sabbath and Kiss.  Much to my surprise I wasn't possessed by the Devil after hearing this stuff.  And I realized that the style and tempo of the music was to my liking.  I never became a serious headbanger like you see in some films and music videos, but I could rock out with the best of them.

As far as Kiss was concerned, I learned that glam rock was just another variation of the same type of music that some others used.  The members just used makeup as a gimmick.  It is a false rumor that the letters of KISS stand for "Knights In Satan's Service".  The name was actually just a response to a statement made by one of the band members.  Peter Criss commented that he had been in a band called "Lips" so Paul Stanley suggested they call their band "Kiss".  (BTW the band had formerly been known as "Wicked Lester" before Criss joined the band)


For a brief period, the band abandoned the makeup gimmick and just produced albums without makeup.  But their prominent years involved the personas they created   They played under their real (or in some cases, assumed) names of Paul Stanley (born Stanley Eisen), Gene Simmons (born Chaim Witz), Ace Frehley (born Paul Frehley) and Peter Criss (Peter Criscuola).  But they also had names for their personas in makeup (Stanley: "Starchild", Simmons: "The Demon", Frehley: "The Spaceman" and Criss: "Catman")















 Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park: (1978)

By 1978, Kiss had such a following that they were even granted their own TV movie special.  Airing just before Halloween in 1978 (fitting, dontcha think?) the movie was panned by critics and fans alike.  The band famously forbid anyone in their crew to even mention the movie in their presence.  And, in retrospect, it is pretty ridiculous.  The producers seemed to not know what they had.  The Kiss characters come off looking like cheap knockoffs of the3 worst comic book superheroes, and the acting is substandard even with Anthony Zerbe, who probably should have known better.


The script sounds like it was written by amateurs.   The comments from some of the members of the band are instructive.  Gene Simmons has said that it is "a classic movie... classic if you're on drugs."  I compare it to the "Star Wars Holiday Special" (which coincidentally aired just a few weeks later in 1978...), just another desperate 70's attempt to cater to the whims of the teenage viewing audience who weren't watching much TV in the first place.

None of the members of Kiss can act worth a damn (at this point, although Gene Simmons has proven himself capable in a few later endeavors.)  BTW, is it just me or does Ace Frehley sound like Curly from the Three Stooges?

So what's the plot?  (Plot?  Are you serious?)  Anthony Zerbe plays Abner Devereaux, a genius who has devised much of the animatronic attractions for a theme park.  But because the bottom line is getting the theme park to make money and much of the funds are being drawn on by Devereaux to finance his increasingly expensive new ideas, he is given the ax by the management, in particular the head of operations, Calvin Richards (Carmine Caridi).


Of course, Devereaux is put into the mold as a mad scientist whose goal is to make them all pay for his troubles.  The thing is, Devereaux has the ability to turn actual humans into robots.  As well as create his own robots.  And he plans to use them all for his nefarious purposes.


Devereaux's big complaint is the scheduled performance of the band Kiss as a major attraction to opening day.  Devereaux doesn't like rock and roll.  (I bet he is still miffed that classical music has gone out of style.)  So he plans, among other things, to create robotic versions of Kiss, kidnap the real band, and substitute the robots for them.  With the robots thus in place, he will proceed to have them trash the park and incite a riot, thus shutting down the park.


The superhero aspect comes into play when it is revealed that each of the members of the band have their super powers given to them by a set of ancient talismans.  When Devereaux has one of his human/robot henchmen steal the talismans from their dressing room, he is able to neutralize them and kidnap them.


Of course, good will always in out in the end in these kinds of movies.  The trouble is getting to that end.  Trust me when I say, if you're not laughing at the ineptness of the plot, you are probably wondering how this thing ever escaped from the drawing room in the first place.  





Detroit Rock City: (1999)


The time is 1978.  Four would be rock and rollers who have formed their own Kiss tribute band (called "Mystery") anxiously are awaiting the upcoming concert of Kiss coming to their home stadium.  They have tickets on hand.  Unfortunately, the tickets are in the possession of Jam (Sam Huntington), whose mother (Lin Shaye) is a religious zealot who subscribes to the belief that rock and roll in general is evil and that Kiss in particular is the spawn of Satan.

She finds the tickets that Jam has stashed and proceeds to burn them in front of him, to the horror of his band mates/friends; Hawk (Edward Furlong), Lex (Giuseppe Andrews) and Trip (James DeBello).  With their hopes dashed the boys are devastated.  That is until a local radio show has a call-in contest with four tickets in the offing as the prize.  Trip is the lucky guy who calls in and wins the tickets.


The four set out to travel to the concert.  In the course of the trip they have a confrontation with a group of disco fans and prove that no disco malcontents are a match for a group of hardcore rockers.  Which ends up with one of the girls accompanying them on their trip and one of the funniest scenes in the process>

"Don't pick her up!  It's a teenage girl walking along the side of a highway!  I mean, they make scary movies that start out like that!"

"Yeah, but they make porno movies that start out like that, too!"

Upon arriving in the city, the boys find out that ditzy Trip forgot to stay on the phone long enough to give his personal information to the DJ at the radio station and the tickets were given to the next caller.  Stuck in the city without their precious tickets each boy goes his own way to find a way to scavenge tickets for the precious concert.

The various ways in which each of these guys tries to get tickets is a treat in itself.  I won't give away all of them, but at least one of them will have to shed his inhibitions to get the money the needs to buy tickets from a scalper (see the quote at the beginning of this blog piece.)

The fly in the ointment is that Jam's mom is in town too, as part of a group of religious witch hunters to protest the evil presence of Satan's musicians.  And of course, you just KNOW that Jam and his mom are going to cross paths at some point.

The band members only appear at the end at the concert, so we aren't subjected to an attempt to make restitution for the 1978 debacle of a TV movie.  And this flick is by far better acted by its cast.

Well folks, time to take that ride home.  Drive safely.



Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Music Time




It has been 4 months since I was last able to see a movie in the theater.   It was during the current pandemic that I heard that the people behind the Bill and Ted franchise had finally completed the long rumored third movie in the franchise and I, within reason, anticipated that it would be one of those films that I would have to wait until its release on DVD to finally see, since the pandemic had seemingly shut down theaters as we know them.  


But as it turns out there are a few, albeit in Austin and San Antonio that are making the effort to make some movies available to us.  So I made the 20 mile trip north to Austin to catch a viewing of this movie.  It's not often that I review a film currently in the theater (only 3 times prior to this one).

As i said in my review of the first two films in the series, I was about 10-15 years older than the average person to whom the franchise was aimed, but I liked the two characters.  I think they are kind of like the 90's answer to Cheech and Chong (except neither of these guys does drugs, at least not on camera).  

First off an observation;  Keanu Reeves has gotten OLD.  He looks every bit of his 55.  By comparison, Alex Winter doesn't look much older than he did in the originals.  Maybe he really IS a vampire. (He played one in The Lost Boys, in case you were unaware.)  











Of course, I too no longer look like I did at 25.  (Somebody keeps replacing my natural dark brown hairs with grey hairs while I sleep).




Bill and Ted Face the Music (2020):

It has been 25 years since the young duo Bill S. Preston, Esq. (Alex Winter) and Ted Theodore Logan (Keanu Reeves) were approached by an emissary of the future, Rufus (George Carlin) and helped along in the journey to create peace and harmony in the universe with their music.  The two have still not had success and are now reduced to doing stage shows at things like birthday parties.  Their future as prophesied by Rufus has not been as bright as predicted.

In that context they are approached by Kelly (Kristen Schaal), the daughter of Rufus and taken to the future to meet the Great Leader (Holland Taylor), who just happens to be Kelly's mother.  The Great Leader informs the duo that they have to have created their song by 7:17 that night or the whole universe as we know it will collapse.

Knowing they don't as yet have the song, the two decide to use their old phone booth time machine to go into their own future and steal the song from their future selves.  But they keep running into the same problem; their future selves are still just as much losers as they are and have always been.

In the meantime, the Great Leader  decides that the future may depend on the death of Bill and Ted and sends a robot back to kill them.  In the meantime, Bill and Ted's daughters Billie Logan (Bridgette Lundy-Paine) and Thea Preston (Samara Weaving) decide that the key to helping their fathers is to accompany Kelly and kidnap some of the greatest musicians of all time (which include Jimi Hendrix, Louis Armstrong and Mozart, among others).

The convoluted story ends up with several diverse plots coming together, including an excursion in to Hell to rescue people.  It doesn't all entirely make sense, but the myriad of plot devices were apparently needed to drive home the need for everybody to come together.  And therein is the ultimate point of this adventure (and the point of the film itself) ;  a universal plea for that age old adage of "can't we all just get along?"

In my opinion the movie is just only OK.  I could have done without the political message that was the underlying point.  After all the original two films were just about having fun and the goofiness of it's main characters and if there was a political agenda in them it sure didn't slap you in the face.

Was it worth the 4 month wait for me to withstand between my last venture into a theater?  I would say yes, at this point.   But was it worth the 25 year wait to see how the characters were getting along from the last film?  I would have to say no.  This one didn't have near as many funny moments.

Drive home safely folks.