Archive for the ‘1988’ Category
Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
Years: 1980, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989
Genre: Horror, Slasher, Garbage
Country: United States
Starring: Kevin Bacon, Betsy Palmer, Cory Feldman, Crispin Glover, Kane Hodder
Eye candy: All kinds of dumb young naked (mostly horny) chicks with knives in them
Directors: Sean S. Cunningham, Steve Miner, Danny Steinmann, Tom McLoughlin, John Carl Buechler, Rob Hedden
DVD distributor: Paramount Home Entertainment
On October 4th, the horror box sets start appearing, beginning with the Friday the 13th Limited Edition Gift Set from Paramount Home Entertainment. This 8-disc box contains the first eight Friday movies (as some purists would have it – the REAL 8 Friday movies). If you want the ninth and tenth also (Freddy Vs. Jason and the bonkers slasher-in-space opus Jason X), they are available together on a bargain double feature DVD from Alliance Films the same day.
The first eight movies are, of course, Friday the 13th, Friday the 13th Part II, Friday the 13th Part III (in 3-D – the box set comes with the glasses), Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning, Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, and Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. For individual reviews, click the above links.
The thing is, all of these movies are genuinely terrible. The Friday series has been one of the most consistently awful film series in history, and has become famous…why I don’t really know. Maybe just volume. But the fact remains that it HAS become famous, a weird cult thing for people with bad taste and those with a keenly developed sense of irony. And for those people this box set is just about perfect.
It comes with a mask – just in time for Hallowe’en! The mask is decently made, but way too small for the average adult. And of course the average Friday the 13th geek IS an adult. In my house, the only person who could fit into the mask was my 11-year-old stepson, who is too young to watch Friday the 13th movies anyway.
That being said, what makes this box set work is the geeky minutiae in the booklet. Each movie has stats – number of kills (21 in Jason Takes Manhattan!) and weapons used. How many sex scenes and stalled cars in Jason Lives? Which is the one movie where a character other than Jason exhibits supernatural powers (telekenisis!)?
THIS is the sort of thing Friday buffs love. I think most of the recognize the awfulness of the films, so they must care more about body count and spear-gun-vs.-hatchet than they do about really enjoying the films. And that’s exactly what this box set does. It caters to the audience for the movies, and I think that audience will be thrilled.
Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
Genre: Documentary, Music
Language: German w/ English subtitles
Starring: A bunch of East German bands
Director: Dieter Schumann
Run time: 115 minutes
DVD distributor: First Run Features
I like Whisper & Shout!, out January 19th from First Run Features. It’s one of those cool “rare” movies that have finally been released on DVD after many years of obscurity. This one was filmed in the former East Germany in the late 80s, and followed several bands as they played little festivals, traveled around their country and met their fans. I like the bands, and they have some interesting things to say.
The problem I had with the film was that the interesting things they had to say were mostly about music, or their fans, or the grind of driving around in a van and attending festivals. All of that is fine, and as a music fanatic I enjoyed hearing all this stuff from bands with which I was not previously familiar. But as a news junkie, and as someone who loves to learn about history, I was expecting something more. My fault, I’m sure.
I was expecting a window into the culture and life that was East Germany in the late 80s. I got that, to a degree, but it was incidental at best. I was surprised to see topless lesbians openly attending outdoor concerts together. I thought the regime was far too oppressive to allow these open-air shows with all these rowdy young people. But the cops seem to be cool, the kids don’t seem to be too worried about the police or the government, and most of their music isn’t protest music.
That makes the film interesting on one level – a lost rarity, suitable for hardcore Rammstein fans (a few members of that band appear in the movie with their earlier groups), but it just wasn’t enough history or insight into 1987 East Germany for me.
Sunday, January 17th, 2010
Years: 1974, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990
Genre: Cartoon, Political
Country: East Germany
Language: No dialogue, German credits not translated
Directors: Otto Sacher, Klaus Georgi, Sieglinde Hamacher, Marion Rasche, Hans Moser, Thomas Rosie, Lutz Stutzner, Peter Mibach
Run time: 57 minutes
Special Features: Behind The Scenes at the DEFA Animation Studio, film essays, biographies and filmographies
DVD distributor: First Run Features
The description of Red Cartoons indicates that it’s a collection of 16 short animated films from the former East Germany, produced by the country’s DEFA Sutiod For Animation Films between 1974 and 1990. These films are apparently full of social and political satire that would never have been allowed in live action films by the oppressive regime at the time. That being said, I can find that satire in only a few of the shorts.
This had me feeling like an idiot for a long time – how come I can’t see the subversive nature of these cartoons? Am I so poorly versed in the customs and conventions of the former East Germany and, indeed, the world that I’m the only one who can’t see this stuff? I GOT the cartoons, but not the satire. What’s wrong with me?
The first cartoon is called Drum Beat. And, admittedly, I didn’t understand that one at all, even as just a cartoon. This guy has a drum, see. His wife drops it on his head, but that’s cool he has more. Then he walks around with it and ends up in a drum band. That’s about it. I don’t get it.
The second film, from the same director (Otto Sacher) is called Stars And Flowers. At least I got that one. A guy who lives in the stars longs to touch the flower on the ground, and a guy who lives on the ground longs to touch the stars in the sky. Loneliness sees a shocking abuse of emergency services as an old man sets fire to his Christmas tree so he will have the companionship of the fire department and the ambulance attendants.
Variants sees two neighbours in a dispute over what appear to be raked leaves, and although a trip to court works out their differences, it doesn’t fix their animosity toward each other. The Rescue is a tale of greed and selfishness which involves a remarkable number of people who manage to fall down a series of crevasses. Seven Rights of a Viewer explores seven different ways an audience can respond to a performer, from the great (showering him with flowers) to the terrible (getting up and leaving).
Hello sees an unfortunate man, plagued by noises everywhere he goes and trying to escape. Deserted islands offer him no solitude, nor do forests or mountains or anything else. Eventually he meets Satan in the desert. I think I get that one. Consequence is a satire I get. After applauding vigorously for a film that details how driving in cars pollutes and destroys nthe environment, the audience gets into their cars and drives home.
The Solution involves a bunch of birds sitting on a wire. One little bird at the end is a non-conformist, which of course means he sits the opposite direction as the rest of the flock. And of course his little friends rat him out. And he gets roundly punished. Until eventually everyone else comes around, so to speak. Belly And Soul is about people feigning interest in the performance of a pianist while secretly trying to get to the massive spread of food that has been laid out following the concert.
The Breakdown sees a man desperately asking for help at the side of the road, as his car has apparently fallen in a hole. Finally, th smallest car stops to help and pull him out, with surprising results. I get the satire in this one too. That makes two. The Full Circle is the story of a plant that produces gas masks, polluting so much in the process that the people in the town are forced to wear…gas masks, of course. And Mr. Daff Is Shooting A Film makes a joke out of a poor sap of a bus driver.
The Monument sees the unveiling of a massive statue to great applause, then people forget about it pretty much right away. Then the statue gets a phone call. And ends up alone in what appears to be a desert, in an Ozymandias sort of finale. I don’t really get it. Sunday seems to depict a church, where everyone is going to look at a plant, and tickets are being ripped at the door and everyone, including the priest, is getting patted down. I guess to make sure they are not bringing in their own water bottles or snacks.
The final short on the set is Island Joke, wherein three shipwrecked and frozen men have a chance to warm themselves up with a blanket tossed to them by a helpful mermaid. Not understanding the gesture, they do what they figure is most obvious with the blanket – they build themselves a flag and salute it. Here, again, is a satire I can understand.
About four of the sixteen shorts are obvious satires, at least to me. Maybe six. I would have really liked to see a special feature that explained a little more. There are several special features on the disc, but one is a wordless slide show that just shows people working at DEFA, and the others are essays about the East German film industry and animation. Which is all great stuff – very informative and interesting, but I would have liked to see something that dealt more specifically with the sixteen films that were chosen to be featured on this disc.
Even though I didn’t understand a few of the films, I liked them. I thought they were all charming, and this is a disc I can see myself watching over and over. But the fact that I liked them all so much was the reason I wanted to know more about them. Thanks to the special features I know a little more about the directors and a lot more about the East German industry, but no more about the films themselves. Red Cartoons comes out January 19th from First Run Features.
Saturday, July 4th, 2009
“Sorry don’t feed the bulldog.”
Matlock has grown on me with every successive season being released on DVD by Paramount Home Entertainment. The most recent season is the third, out July 7th on DVD. It’s not just quotes like “sorry don’t feed the bulldog” that make me happy. That kind of Dr. Phil style “wisdom” has been dispensed in dozens of shows over the history of television. Now, granted - rarely has it been delivered with a befuddled elderly southern charm such as Andy Griffith has in Matlock. Which just makes it that much more entertaining. Remember – Andy Griffith was once on the Andy Griffith Show, and that automatically infuses him with a delightful southern charm. The “elderly” and “befuddled” parts, however, come only with Matlock.
But the involvement of Andy Griffith is not the only similarity between the two shows. As season three begins, there is yet another Andy Griffith alumnus who joins the cast of Matlock, that being good ol’ Don Knotts. He plays pretty much the same character he’s played his entire life – the annoying, pain-in-the-ass neighbour. The guy who comes to Matlock’s house at all hours of the night to borrow his car or to fix his pipes or to just plain talk about the old days. His appearance, in episode one of Season Three, adds him to the cast for the rest of the season. And of course, he must be accused by a murder that he did not commit, and Matlock must defend him against those fraudulent charges.
Then we move on to the other, regular, every-day Matlock episodes. One-parters like the DJ episode, where warring morning men end up in court after one of them is murdered. OK, only one of them ends up in court. The other has been murdered. If you watch this episode, please do not feel that this reflects on your average morning radio host. Most of us are far more pleasant than either of these douchebags. Then there are the several two-parter episodes, like one about a British ambassador accused of killing the husband of his mistress, or another about the mayor, and then one about a coin shop owner. Why these episodes are two-parters, I’m not really sure. There isn’t much more to them than the rest of the series. I guess it kept the old folks watching.
Then there are the actual legal proceedings, which make me happy as well. The fact that prosecutors “object!” and that judges say things like “Mr. Matlock, are you going somewhere with this?” and then he just waves them off, muttering something, in the middle of what appears to be an interminable questioning session of a witness, and then they allow him, after their objections, to go on for several more hours without interruption. I love the fact that he solves every single crime. I love the fact that, like Columbo before him, he always has “one more question” to ask. And I just plain love Andy Griffith. He was a pretty solid old dude in Matlock.
The show was dreadful, silly, and almost offensively simple in its mindset. But Andy Griffith, Don Knotts (in Season Three), Kene Holliday and Nancy Stafford are all pretty darn decent, the show is pretty darn campy in its silliness, and the more I watch it the more I like. The first season I gave four stars. The second season I gave 5 stars. And this one I gave six. I would be surprised if I like the series enough to give season four a seven-star rating. I think Matlock is maxed out here. And I also think that I have now watched three seasons of Matlock on DVD, which means that I have spent 48 hours of my life watching this program. Maybe it takes that long to have this program grow on you. Or maybe I’m just a sad, sad individual who ought to be living with some 90-year-olds.