Raimifest #3: Army of Darkness (1992)

Keep checking Things That Don’t Suck for more Raimifest posts and contributors! All contributions have been excellent, without exception. Do yourself a favor and mosey over there today. “They’re small films with a small and twisted group of people that like them.” — Sam Raimi – “Humor is just another defense against the universe.” — Mel Brooks – “Sanity calms, but madness is more interesting.” — John Russell – “…when it came time to shoot, the rigors of running up and down steps, fighting with both hands, and flipping skeletons over my head was too much to pull off without cuts. After ten takes, I knew Sam was pissed off, because he yanked the bullhorn from John Cameron. “‘Okay, obviously, this is not working, and it’s not going to work, so we’re going to break it up into a thousand little pieces.‘ “When Sam gets upset, he lets you know it, and he’ll torture you for days afterward because he’s one of those guys who never forgets. The first ‘little piece’ of the sequence was a shot of me ducking as a sword glances off the stone wall behind me. “‘So, you think you can do this, Bruce?’ he’d say, loud enough for the entire crew to hear. ‘Or should I break this one shot into three more shots?’” — Bruce Campbell, If Chins Could Kill – “I had originally written a story for Evil Dead 2 that took place in the middle ages, but when it came time to … Continue reading

Raimifest #2: Evil Dead II (1987)

Don’t forget to check out Things That Don’t Suck for a list of the excellent contributions thus far to Raimifest! “I love to charge up the audience. I feel the horror audience is a great audience, and I would ideally make a movie that would give them as much energy as they’re willing to give to the picture. Some movies to me are like vampires – they suck all of the energy out of me and I don’t like that. I like to give the audience energy if I can.” — Sam Raimi, 2009 – “Those horror movies that I made when I got started – called Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2 – they were about the exploration of what film was, and presenting the world of the supernatural was a great medium for that because you had to present something that doesn’t exist in our world. But at some point in my life, I thought I should start making the types of pictures that I’d like to see, because the films that I saw were not horror films…” — Sam Raimi, 2009 – “And in Evil Dead 2 I’m supposed to be walking round with [the chainsaw] on my hand and it’s supposed to be going ‘putputputputputput’ and the only way to do it, to get the bit of smoke to come out, was to run a tube all down my arm, my sleeve, my pants, out my pant leg and twenty feet over to a little smoke machine. … Continue reading

Raimifest #1: The Evil Dead (1981)

This is my first entry for Bryce’s epic Raimifest at Things That Don’t Suck. Check out the ‘fest as well as Bryce’s post on Sam Raimi’s early short “Within the Woods.” “…Rob [Tapert], myself and Bruce Campbell sat in hundreds of drive-ins…not hundreds, but tens of drive-ins, watching these movies and learning how they were made, and we started to make our own in Super 8. And that’s really how we got into horror films. After a while we learned to really like them, and the craft that went into them.” — Sam Raimi, 2007 – “When I was a student at Michigan State University…I desperately wanted to make movies but couldn’t figure out how to do it. So I came up with this scheme. I’d make super 8 films and advertise the showings in the local newspapers and use the University cinema. I’d charge admission and it was a valuable learning tool for me. I would sit through the screenings and if the movie stank the audience would tell me so in no uncertain terms. …The audience who paid $1.50 to get in were so abusive but after a while and after more movies the criticisms would change to ‘Well we hated it, but not as much as the last one.’” — Sam Raimi, 1987 – Rob Tapert: “…we worked with Joe [LoDuca]. He worked with us on all the Evil Deads. Great composer. He knows how to get in there and make it work when the scene isn’t … Continue reading

Happy Birthday El!

El Brendel Born March 25, 1891

Happy 80th Birthday, William Shatner

William Shatner is 80 years old today! It’s hard to believe. Someone should capture his energy and use it to power a small city. I would like to direct you all to The Lightning Bug’s Lair, where his yearly You Don’t Know Shat series is well under way! Very highly recommended. You will not see a greater collection of Shatneria anywhere else. I’m sure they’re reading the 1967 issue with the “Star Blecch” parody, but for my money, the 1976 parody musical “Keep on Trekkin’” was the best of the Mad Magazine parodies, if for no other reason than “A Crew That’s Dispensable” is really damn catchy. Photo courtesy Laughing Squid, which has more pictures and links to even more pictures.

Wigging Out: Shampoo (1975)

Take a good look at this poster. Nice poster, innit? Evocative, stylish, everyone looks lovely. There is just one problem: The hairstyles in the poster for Shampoo (1975) do not match what the actors sport in the film, not on any level. The only way I can cope with the earth-shattering failure of the hairstyles in Shampoo is to pretend as though they were a deliberate part of the satire. It’s not that the hair is always bad, oh no. Goldie’s hair is terrific as always, not the straight 60s look in the poster but a slight modification of her classic bouncy 70s look. It’s a bit anachronistic, but nothing horrifying. Lee Grant’s hair is the same style she’s rocked since 1962, slightly fluffier. I do not quibble with their hairstyles, as both Grant and Hawn have signature styles with little deviation. But. BUT. Jack Warden is in an embarrassing red toupee, this weird little wiry thing just sitting on top of his head. Carrie Fisher is in a long reddish wig that’s so obvious, scarves were required to make it look semi-presentable. And Beatty… oh, dear. Beatty’s hair is almost indescribable. It looks like a remnant of shag carpeting escaped from a split-level home and hijacked Warren’s head, then forced him to drive 65 MPH in a convertible with the top down. Julie Christie is put in a series of increasingly unbelievable wigs until she finally ends up here: My stars.   It’s equivocal whether Warren is simply too … Continue reading

Code of Silence (1985)

So, get this: Chuck Norris can act. Last May, I entered the epic Chuck Norris Ate My Blog Contest, hosted by Matt-suzaka of Chuck Norris Ate My Baby fame. As I mentioned at the time, my first choice for entry in the contest was Code of Silence, but those plans were waylaid when my husband mentioned the word “zombie” and the words “Silent Rage” in the same sentence. I was lucky enough to win the CNAMB contest and many fabulous prizes, including a DVD of Code of Silence. My husband and I popped it into the player expecting another Silent Rage, which is a great big pile o’ B-grade fun. Instead, we got a great big pile of almost-A-grade action that was not just entertaining, it was good. Chuck is Eddie Cusack, loner Chicago cop who is leading an undercover sting operation to nab the drug-dealing mafia-esque Camacho family. Before the cops can raid the place, a competing gang comes blazing in, killing most of the Camacho family, an undercover cop, and… well, basically everyone in the room. Luis Camacho, head of the family, learns that the hit was ordered by Tony Luna and swears revenge on the Luna gang. Tony is a fine upstanding mafia man, and you know this because he runs like a scared little boy right out of town, leaving his wife, elderly mother, and other family members to be mowed down by the Camachos in an attempt to draw Tony out. Sgt. Cusack has to … Continue reading

Wonderful World of Tupperware (1959) & Who’s Minding the Mint? (1967)

“The Wonderful World of Tupperware” is a 1959 short, apparently created as a corporate film for use at Tupperware’s local sales rallies. You can see some snippets of the other Tupperware films here at the PBS “American Experience” website. “Wonderful World of Tupperware” is roughly 30 minutes in length and airs regularly on TCM, coming up next on April 15 and May 6, 2011, so you have a chance to see this delightful slice of 1950s Americana for yourself. Here is a quick clip to get you in the mood… and if you see that and still don’t want to watch “Wonderful World of Tupperware,” then buddy, I don’t know what to do with you. WWoT begins, as it should, at the beginning, with the production and manufacturing of Tupperware products. Most people who have commented about WWoT online say they were bored with the manufacturing part but loved Anita Bryant. Best part of the film, they say. She sounds wonderful, they say. Where’s a pie when you need it, I say. I quite honestly chose this screencap because the worker demonstrating the machine has an amazing tattoo.   After we learn how Tupperware is made — in the U.S., never to be shipped to other countries, the narrator assures us — we learn how it is sold at local parties. The year’s highest sales are rewarded at regional events where the best salespeople are crowned queen and, sometimes, king. Part of the Tupperware mythology is the yearly Tupperware Jubilee, … Continue reading

Daisy Kenyon (1947)

Joan Crawford is Daisy Kenyon, a magazine illustrator in love with two men and immersed in all the drama that entails. For years I didn’t care for Otto Preminger. Perhaps it was first impressions, a knee-jerk reaction to the automatic praise he receives, or a tangible dislike of his reportedly odious personality. I don’t know what specifically I disliked about him; nearly two years ago, though, I caught Bonjour tristesse (1958) and was intrigued. Squicked, but intrigued. I saw Laura (1944) for a second time and realized that my initial impression — essentially, I scoffed at the film because the subtext wasn’t very sub, if you catch my heavily implied meaning — was wrong, and inadvertently distracted me from all the terrific nuances peppering the film. Plus, I loved A Royal Scandal (1945) and I have a lovely copy of Margin of Error (1943) right here next to me that I also expect to love, so I’m softening on ol’ Otto. Especially now that I’ve seen Daisy Kenyon. Fab. U. Lous. This is not just another Joan Crawford melodrama, but instead a comparatively realistic, morally ambiguous portrayal of a love triangle that goes completely and unsurprisingly wrong. There are all sorts of issues unflinchingly addressed such as child abuse, extramarital affairs, illegal discrimination against Japanese Americans during and after WWII, PTSD, and rape. Did I mention it was a melodrama?   Dana Andrews delivers another wonderful performance as Dan O’Mara, creepy and condescending big-name corporate dude who cheats on his … Continue reading

Bette Davis Project #14: "The Virginian" and The Nanny (1965)

Thanks to my BBFF Ivan, I managed to catch a first season episode of “The Virginian” titled “The Accomplice,” guest starring Bette Davis. A normal person would have gotten a capture of the title screen instead of a credit… but by now you all know I am not a normal person.   Bette plays Celia Miller, spinster bank teller, whose bank had been robbed a year earlier by masked bandits. The manager was killed during the hold up, and one of the robbers was recently apprehended. The robber named Trampas (series regular Doug McClure) as one of his partners in crime. Since Trampas is a regular on the show, it’s obvious he didn’t commit the robbery, so the show focuses on whether he will be unfairly convicted or not. Trampas is arrested and taken back to the town where the robbery occurred, and The Virginian goes with him. They are both astonished to find two bank employees, Celia (Bette) and Mr. Darby (character legend Woodrow Parfey), confirm Trampas was one of the robbers. It soon becomes clear that Mr. Darby’s account is unreliable because of his poor eyesight, but no one can figure out why Celia, a well-known resident with an impeccable reputation, insists that Trampas was involved. When the arrested robber’s real accomplice arrives in town pretending to be a newspaperman, all is clear: Celia wants $10,000 from the accomplice for her cooperation in identifying the wrong man, allowing the accomplice to go free. Bette gives a perfectly cromulent … Continue reading