The Monster and the Ape #10: This Episode Wouldn’t Voom If You Put Four Million Volts Through It

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The Monster and the Ape #10 Forty Thousand Volts   For those of you playing The Monster and the Ape home game, I have some sad news: OV Guide’s website has been updated and they no longer host the serial, and I can find no free streaming sites for it. Also, I like you folks, you’re good people, which is why I don’t recommend you buy this, even if the places that sell it are also run by good people. Buy something else from them, something that’s not The Monster and the Ape. Update: Blog buddy James Vance notes that the serial is available on YouTube with Spanish subtitles! You can find Chapter 10 here. Not that I would recommend it, but for you completists, there it is. This is a short one, my friends, not because of the holidays, but because we’re in the midst of the most boring, ennui-inducing tedium known to mankind: the middle episodes of a crappy movie serial. Even our usually over-caffeinated recap narrator can’t muster a full sentence before sending us into the recap, which is exactly what we saw last week: Ken finding henchmen digging more tunnel at the end of an already-dug tunnel, using the Metalogen Man, and attempting to get the metalogen disk off the robot. A henchman remotely directs M-Bot to thonk Ken on the noggin (and the crowd goes wild) while a second henchman slams the handle of a detonator down, hoping to explodiate Ken with what appears to … Continue reading

TSPDT1K Update #2

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My project to watch all the films on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They? Top 1000 list continues apace. Here are the films that I saw during the back half of 2013: 25. MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA, THE (Dziga Vertov / 1929 / USSR / 80m / BW) 84. JULES ET JIM (François Truffaut / 1961 / France / 104m / BW) 126. STAR WARS (George Lucas / 1977 / USA / 121m / Col) 131. DAYS OF HEAVEN (Terrence Malick / 1978 / USA / 95m / Col) 191. BELLE DE JOUR (Luis Buñuel / 1967 / France, Italy / 100m / Col) 243. WINGS OF DESIRE (Wim Wenders / 1987 / France, West Germany / 130m / Col-BW) 346. THERE WILL BE BLOOD (Paul Thomas Anderson / 2007 / USA / 158m / Col) 394. DAISIES (Vera Chytilová / 1966 / Czechoslovakia / 76m / Col-BW) 571. CITY OF GOD (Fernando Meirelles / 2002 / Brazil, Germany, France / 129m / Col) 671. WHITE RIBBON, THE (Michael Haneke / 2009 / Germany, Austria, France, Italy / 144m / BW) 705. GUMMO (Harmony Korine / 1997 / USA / 88m / Col) 770. INLAND EMPIRE (David Lynch / 2006 / USA, France, Poland / 180m / Col) 832. SEPARATION, A (Asghar Farhadi / 2011 / Iran / 123m / Col) A few random thoughts: Star Wars: Knowing of it only through reputation, I was expecting something more outlandish, silly, ridiculous. Really, the only truly bad part of the … Continue reading

S#x Acts (2012)

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S#x Acts (a.k.a. Six Acts) ★★☆☆☆ Dir: Jonathan Gurfinkel Tribeca Films 96 minutes North American release in select theaters on December 6, 2013. Available via On Demand and iTunes.   Gili (Sivan Levy) is a pretty, dark-haired teen who has just transferred to a new high school, and is already showing a healthy interest in the popular and handsome Tomer (Roy Nik). Just a quick text and selfie later, she finds herself on a hill overlooking the mall, giving Tomer an inexpert but ultimately effective hand job. He has no real interest in Gili, however, and quickly passes her on to his smarmy friend Omri (Eviatar Mor). That Gili goes along with this seems, at first, merely unfortunate, but her expected revelation that she’s being used never arrives. She brags to a group of popular girls that she is the one exploiting the boys, not the other way around, and for a while, it seems that she might be telling the truth. Then Shabat (Niv Zilberberg) enters the picture, a chubby teenage boy existing on the outskirts of the cool, upper class world of Omri and Tomer, and the full extent of Gili’s exploitation becomes clear. S#x Acts, the debut outing from Israeli director Jonathan Gurfinkel, is brutal and fragmented, a meditation on modern day teen culture and the too-common casual disregard of basic boundaries and respect. The teens in this film are almost all affluent, living in palatial homes, owning their own large SUVs and nightclubs, and notably have … Continue reading

Book Review: Pulp Fiction: The Complete Story of Quentin Tarantino’s Masterpiece, by Jason Bailey

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On Tuesday, it was announced that Pulp Fiction (1994) was one of the 25 films added to the National Film Registry this year. Jason Bailey’s Pulp Fiction: The Complete Story of Quentin Tarantino’s Masterpiece, which hit the streets running in mid-November, tells you why. Still at university and a frequent customer of a mom-and-pop video store that specialized in rare and cult films, Pulp Fiction was the first new release film I ever saw that had two actors, mostly unknown at the time, who I recognized as having co-starred in a movie together that most people hadn’t seen: Uma Thurman and Maria de Medeiros, in Henry and June (1990). Obscure movie trivia that was current and timely? My penchant for erotic thrillers had relevance? My 22-year-old self never knew such a thing could possibly exist. The third and fourth run theaters I saw Pulp Fiction in were just nuts, ratty and smelly and with an inch of permastick on the floor, with a butane freak and his lighter collection to the left of me the first time I saw the film, an unfortunate man who thought, erroneously, that he had Pulp Fiction memorized sitting to my right during my second viewing. And though I may never forget either of those guys — neither of whom, sadly, were the worst patrons I’ve ever had to deal with — I’ll also never forget the cheers when “Misirlou” practically split those 70s-era theater speakers in half and the title screen rolled up on … Continue reading

The Monster and the Ape #9: No Man Is Free Who Cannot Control His Robot

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The Monster and the Ape #9 The Secret Tunnel The story thus far: Robot salesman Ken, along with robot inventor Professor Arnold and his daughter Babs, are fighting against evil robot-coveting scientist Ernst, who has henchmen and a large gorilla named Thor. The possession of the robot and the wonder metal that powers him, Metalogen, has been alternating between the good but stupid guys and the evil but overly-concerned-with-feelings guys. Of note, our excitable narrator today calls the henchmen “hirelings,” which is adorable. When last we left our alleged heroes Ken and Babs, Ken was in the basement of a boarding house, being smooshed by two compactor walls, while Babs was locked in a room upstairs, not even trying to get out by kicking the door or picking the lock or anything. For those of you playing The Monster and the Ape home game, this episode begins about 2:45:00 on the OV Guide version. As the recap continues, Ken keeps fistfightin’ away, while Babs’ yells of “Help! Heee-elp!” make everyone laugh. Suddenly, police cars arrive, their sirens blaring. “That must be the cops!” says the boarding house owner. Wow, you are on the ball, sister. The cops bust in and the henchmen run off, leaving the middle aged boarding house owner behind to get nabbed by the fuzz. What nice guys. Meanwhile, after seeing Ken nearly crushed and unconscious at the end of last episode, this is the closest he gets to being crushed today. He’s a bossy bottom to … Continue reading

Warner Archive: Sex Kittens Go To College! (1960)

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Today’s Warner Archive film is slightly NSFW! Therefore even more fun than usual! But probably not something you want your boss catching you looking at. *** Sex Kittens Go To College! (1960) A few months ago, a friend asked if I knew where to get a copy of Sex Kittens Go To College!, a film I had, rather astonishingly, never heard of. At the time there were no real sources for the film, but when Warner Archive released it on a MOD DVD, I grabbed that baby ASAP. A 1960 sex comedy with Mamie Van Doren? And John Carradine, Vampira, Norman “Woo Woo” Grabowski, and Elektro the Robot as “Thinko”? YES, PLEASE. Mamie plays a college professor who is exposed (heh) as having been a stripper in the past. There is a lot of silly humor of the beach party variety, which is why Jackie Coogan and John Carradine are here. Wacky hijinks with mad scientists, football players, bookies, and a surprisingly pouty Tuesday Weld occur. There’s a gag where a gangster finds a violin in his violin case (gasp!) that made me laugh a hell of a lot more than it should have, but the monkey at the typewriter is clearly a joke that’s funnier on paper than on celluloid. Then a lot of stripping happens! Sequinned pasties, ladies and gentlemen. Please note that this is the tamest screencap of the stripping sequence I could manage; what is done to the robot is not fit to print. It’s not … Continue reading

Warner Archive #4: The Birds and the Bees Edition

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We’ve got quite a stack of most excellent Warner Archive releases to look at this week! *** Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1973) Now is as good a time as any to confess that, despite it being nearly two years since my first entry in the so-called Neil Diamond Project, I never stopped working on it. For a long time, I felt there was no need to cover the cinematic strangeness known as Jonathan Livingston Seagull, in part because Adam Zanzie at Icebox Films did such a stellar job of it here. His a post is a must-read, as are the comments, and is pretty much your one-stop shop for all things Jonathan Livingston Seagull. But then Warner Archive released this really lovely MOD DVD of the film, and I realized there is a fascinating story to be told here. Further, the film is due for a significant re-evaluation by a culture who isn’t being swallowed whole by Me Generation-funded faux philosophy, and by critics who aren’t preoccupied in a quest to find that one thing that would prove once and for all that Neil Diamond wasn’t punk, and they’re telling everyone. (Note: Said proof arrived in 1978.) Based on the Richard Bach allegorical novel of the same name, JLS concerns Jonathan, a seagull who yearns to fly higher and faster than anyone ever has, but is urged by his fellow gulls to stick closer to earth and not take any risks. It’s a fable, of course, and a charming one in … Continue reading

The Monster and the Ape #8: Those Wonderful Monsters Out There in the Dark

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The Monster and the Ape #8 Death in the Dark   Previously! Everyone finally figured out Ernst was disguised as Dr. Draper all along! Ken gets smug about it! A giant gorilla tosses Babs around a little! And that’s about it! For those of you playing The Monster and the Ape home game, this episode starts about 2:24:25 on the OV Guide version. Just gonna get this out of the way: There is no death in this episode.   We learn in the recap that Babs was left alone while Ken and Prof. Arnold go to the police with that film showing Ernst was the one who attacked Dr. Draper. Also in the recap, we see Babs clearly hears something going on in the lab, but for whatever reason, doesn’t do anything about it. The henchmen send Thor the gorilla into the lab, apparently without realizing Babs is in there. Thor tosses her around a bit, but once they hear her screams, the henchmen run in and pry Thor off of her. They direct him instead toward the Metalogen Man, which he was supposed to pick up and load into their unmarked van of criminality, before he got distracted by a girl in the lab. Take note: This moment where the gorilla is fumbling with an obvious cardboard shell of a robot is the first time the Monster and the Ape are seen together. Thrill! to this action packed episode! Speaking of the robot: The thrilling publicity material which shows … Continue reading

Warner Archive Grab Bag #3: The Bette Davis Edition

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Parachute Jumper (1933) This is a film I first watched last summer, having discovered it on a disc a friend had sent me years and years ago when I originally announced my Bette Davis Project. And folks, if you ever need proof that the studios knew exactly what was considered salacious in the day and added it to their films to bring in the crowds, Parachute Jumper is the film for you. It’s all here, everything from toilet flushes to Frank McHugh flipping people off, and with a game but slightly lost Bette Davis in the middle of it, during her platinum blonde early days when she was still flashing glimpses of herself in nothing but a slip. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. is Bill Keller, and he and his buddy Toodles Cooper (Frank McHugh; who else would play a guy named Toodles Cooper?) are former Marines out looking for work. They stumble across Patricia Brent (Bette Davis), also looking for work. She’s from a small town in Alabama, hence her nickname, and cute as a button, so Bill invites her to stay with them, to at least share the rent. She agrees, and wacky hijinks ensue. Eventually Bill makes some money as a demonstration parachutist, though the job scares Alabama — and given the state of aviation in 1933, her fear seems perfectly reasonable to me — so he tries to find less neck-breaking work. He ends up in the employ of a drug-dealing gangster’s moll, and does more than just … Continue reading

The Monster and the Ape #7: I Have No Monkey, and I Must Scream

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The Monster and the Ape #7: A Scream in the Night For those playing The Monster and the Ape home game, this episode should begin at about 2:06:30 in the OV Guide version. And again, my apologies for missing last week and being late this week; anyone who has been watching along has every right to be irritated with me, because who watches these things unless there’s some kind of benefit from it? Especially this episode… but I get ahead of myself. We don’t get to see “the monster” all that much, but when we do, he is kinda creepy. It’s those lightbulb eyes, I think. Remember how, after The Amityville Horror, those dark sunglasses with single small LED red lights in the middle of them were so popular? So any punk with $1.99 to spare could grab a pair and walk around at night scaring the shit out of people? That’s what M-Bot’s beady little eyes remind me of. Over footage of another delicious Monster And Ape Brand Fistfight ™ located in what is apparently an abandoned paint factory, our excitable recap narrator informs us that this factory is closed because of the ongoing war. Handy to know, but it raises more questions, primarily, “Why does a paint factory that is closed for the duration still have an enormous stone pit full of mystery flammable fluids, which have neither been drained out during the hiatus, nor have evaporated, nor have caused the building to be uninhabitable due to fumes?” … Continue reading