THE HYPNOTIC EYE BY JOE RILEY/EPISODE 01
30 November 2016
Tonight began digging through the awesome collection of old (and sometimes newer) stuff at the comic book area of internetarchives.org. Of course that place is just fantastic for finding stuff like this and the draw back is it is now 3:31 in the morning and I am still not sleepy. if you do not know about the place and all the cool stuff there I recommend you give it a go. It also has free hosting of audio and video files, so long as they are not copyrighted, and it is where I host my podcasts from whenever I actually do one from. it is an old school site and still going strong.
01 November 2016
BILL'S BULLPEN: YET ANOTHER TIRESOME FACEBOOK RANT (HANG IN THERE, IT MAY REALLY BE THE LAST THIS TIME)
|According to the morality police at Facebook it is.|
I just want to say –and I will be reposting the text of this blog post, sans the “hard core porno” image of course- that no matter how hard I try I cannot find a place for Facebook in my narrow little world. I live in China where everything under the sun not approved by the CCP is blocked or banned, including Facebook. I use a VPN to access the site. Now Chairman Zuckerberg and crew have decided a classic album cover is pornographic and then block me from my own site and give me a stern warning about losing my account. Why do I have to experience the same censorship on Facebook I do in culturally repressive communist China? I am utterly disappointed and upset. I saw a meme of a dog shitting into Donald Trump’s mouth on a magazine cover. I do not care about Trump. Screw him and Hillary Clinton both. But that is okay at Facebook. Dog shit pictures, but one of the great album covers of all time is obscene. I thought we got past of this with Howl and Tropic of Cancer. Well, I guess not. I suddenly agree with those rude ass memes, MOST (not all for the love of Allah) people are in fact stupid. I am tired of being a participant in rampant stupidity. Facebook killed time for me. I get stressed and isolated here in China. I have communication dilemmas and culture stress daily. Sometimes Facebook was a diversion. But how many times have I “quit” in the last two years? I am talking, or writing, to myself there. How the fuck would anybody know or even care. No one will care, and that is the nail being driven in my coffin now. Everyday on my timeline I would get an old memory with a note that said “Billy, we care about you and your memories…” Liars! You guys told me you cared, about me and my memories, and look…. Look at what you have done! Tore my heart out and shit on me like that dog did Donald Trump. Oh the woe and suffering. Well, like my FB banner says… adios pinche culeros. Some of you I love very much. I hope somehow we can stay in touch. But not you Mark Zuckerberg, don’t even try to make up with me! I ain’t having it this time!
UPDATE: I was going to go to Facebook and post that infamous "one last post" people always do. I went ahead and deactivated (not deleted) my account. Screw it. It causes me stress. I will miss the post 2016 election bullshit. Or then again, I may not. I have a second account I can use that to stay in touch with all my friends and family. All six of them.
23 October 2016
THE GREASY STRANGLER/2016
DIRECTOR: Jim Hosking
WRITER: Jim Hosking, Toby Harvard
CAST: Michael St. Michaels, Sky Elobar, Elizabeth De Razzo
I am not a fan of flatulence and/or scatological humor. Strangely I guess some people are or films like The Greasy Strangler, from first time director Jim Hosking, would never have come into existence. Don’t get me wrong, please. It is not that I am above snickering or even laughing at a good fart gag. It is just when the premise of the entire film is built around setting up a scene to exploit some disgusting bodily functions of one form or another I am a bit put off. And the bottom line is that that is what The Greasy Strangler does. It is not that the film is all that bad but it really is attempting to be disgusting and it goes a but over board at times and so loses some of the dark but clever humor it generates at others. I watched all the old John Waters stuff back on VHS and the film has some characteristics of a John Waters’ film. It also has some aspects, here and there, of a movie by some one like Frank Henenlotter or Paul Bartel and some moments even David Lynch. Wow, sort of lofty company one may think. But is like a song that steals a lick from Led Zeppelin and a melody line from The Beatles and some vocal phrasing from The Rolling Stones, and yet somehow the song still manages to be, well, bad and unlistenable.
The film’s story, and there is a neglected story here, is around the relationship between Big Ronnie and his son Big Brayden. It not much of a relationship and the one bound they seem to have is carrying on the “family business” of taking people on a guided tour of sites around L.A. that once hosted former disco legends. They wear matching turtle neck sweaters on the tour and of course the whole thing is an obvious sham but every one plays it serious. It is part of the film’s strange humor that works on a certain level. On one tour Braydon meets chunky monkey Janet and a romance blossoms. Janet is at home with all the farting and shitting and greasiness of the guy’s home. Big Ronnie is soon jealous of the relationship and is soon wooing Janet with greasy grapefruits and his large and visible (and prosthetic) uncircumcised penis. If you are offended by large ugly wangs hanging out all the time in a film you may want to take a pass on this one. Everyone wears some sort of fake genital piece, including Janet. And yes, there is a strangler who is greasy and it is Big Ronnie. This is made clear from the get go and so it is so spoiler. Tensions mount and old past issues arise between father and son as the strangler murders off about every extra cast member in the film as the movie progresses. It ends on a strange note and I did not waste much time trying to figure out the ending, nor the 90 minutes or so of the film leading up to the ending.
The film may appeal to people who have some background in watching films by people like John Waters and not being overly offended by them (though Hosking is no John Waters by any stretch, not that being John Waters is something to be ecstatic about anyway ), or it may appeal to groups of drunk young guys and borderline serial killers. In all honestly it will not appeal to too many people. Why? It is not really appealing. It becomes simply annoying. The actors deliberately read lines poorly and play the scenes in a deadpan manner, almost reminding me of something like Lynch’s Eraserhead. But it gets annoying when the gags go on too long, like when there is some miscommunication over the word potato, or Ronnie and Brayden calling each bullshit artist over and over and over. It borders on cleverness but never attains it. The sex scenes are revolting as are the dinner table scenes where Big Ronnie wants everything super greasy for some never explained reason. I will be honest I did like some moments of the film. Here was, as I have said, some cleverness and sometimes the bad acting and dialog were funny. Maybe it was intentionally bad is my feeling. Some of the shots are pretty good and the weird synthesizer scores works actually. But scenes like where Brayden is plowing fat Janet with his finger up her anus and she says “It feels good but what if I fart” just are not funny. Maybe it is meant to offend and it does, but not in the same way a John Waters’ film offend or something like Frankenhooker offends. Those films have a sort of comic, satirical sophistication to them. The Greasy Strangler just had guys with their fingers up some fat woman’s asses. Nothing much else.
05 October 2016
DIRECTOR: ANTON HOLDEN
WRITER: ANTON HOLDEN, DAVID SAWN
CAST: ROBIN LANE, ALISHA FONTAINE, ANTHONEY MASSEN, DAVID SAWN
Like the previous film I reviewed here, Don’t Open the Door, Teenage Tramp is a classic piece of drive-in exploitation fare. It might be hard for enlightened millennials to understand how a film like Teenage Tramp could have ever came into being unless you grew up, as I did, in a time in America when there were still drive-in theaters and cheap matinee movies. When I say cheap I mean I used to watch all manner of weird films for about .35 cents. This movie most likely played along with about three other films all of a similar theme and could be a bit of fun viewing from inside a real car with a V8 engine with a few friends and some primo homegrown and some Boone's Farm. However movies like this play out in a different fashion when you’re watching them in bed on an iPad in the 21st century over wifi. Unless you've had a sort of history watching things in your past I can’t imagine too many people enjoying it, especially anybody who posts selfies regularly and never owned a pair of frayed bell-bottoms. Well, I owned my fair share and while the movie certainly has it pitfalls in terms of, well, acting, script, direction, music score, camera work and most likely catering service when it was being made it is not really a bad movie. At least after it gets past a really choppy and poorly edited beginning sequence that unfolds accompanied by the rousing title song, nay title anthem, What Happened to the Good Times by the immortal song writing duo of Steve and Frankie Ortiz.
Teenage tramp harkens back to a lost time in America. A time when everybody ended every other sentence with “baby”, and when liberated hippie girls danced naked on coffee tables at swinging cool parties, and when at same said party a guy on a conga and a guy on an acoustic guitar could sound like an whole four piece psychedelic rock band. While there are lots of things to poke fun at with Teenage Tramp there is a real story lurking in there with some occasional spurts of good acting. The friction ensues when free spirited Kim (Alisha Fontaine) returns home to big sister Hillary (Robin Lane) because she needs some “bread” to help her draft dodging boyfriend who is sleeping in the backyard eating sandwiches and showing not an ounce of appreciation. Hillary is utterly jealous of her young artist lover Adam (Anthony Massena) and he hardly gives her much reason to feel like he can be trusted, but hey, he's a 70’s guy okay! Kim starts mucking things fast up when she, in a word, hops in bed and screws the guy the first day she is there. Soon bikers and hippies and drug dealers are scurrying around Hillary’s upscale place smoking and snorting, doing hip dances and generally being the parasitic annoyances they basically were. The movie is bleak and the characters get little mercy. The message seems to be that being a teenage tramp is not all it is cooked up to be.
In Teenage tramp we get a first hand glimpse into the now long forgotten word of bald guys with round glasses and long hair (on the sides), draft dodgers who do not mind their girlfriends giving seedy truck drivers sex in exchange for a lift, men with hairy chests and open shirts who take no shit from women, and sort of cute at times hippie girls with no inkling that pubic hair should be trimmed or concealed. Yes, it was a great time in America.
29 September 2016
DON’T OPEN THE DOOR/aka DON’T HANG UP/1975
DIRECTOR: S.F. BROWNRIGG
WRITER: FRANK SCHAEFER, KERRY NEWCOMBE
CAST: SUSAN BRACKEN, LARRY O’DWYER, GENE ROSS, JAMES N. HARRELL, HUGH FEAGIN
With this post I shift my reviews or posts back to including more older style movies. In particular films form the late 50’ on into the glorious 60’s and 70’s. I actually enjoy the experience of watching some of these films even if they lean towards the pretty bad side of things. They tend to be shorter in duration (often no longer than 90 minutes and as short as 70 or so) and the colors are a bit brighter than newer films - to the point of being lurid- or they are shot in a type of b/w style I usually like. All that positive stuff being said, they also tend to have horrid music scores, sloppy editing and direction, poor writing and bad over acting. Strangely however, all of that can be fun. This film by S.F. Brownrigg ( Don’t Look in the Basement, Keep My Grave Open and poor white Trash 2) is a fine example of the goods and bads involved with viewing these old films. While I try to be nice and merciful with these older films compared to the newer ones I have to admit in the end it can be an ordeal really to sit all the way through one, and the 70 minute length of a film like this can seem like hours. If you’re able to do a sort of MST3K routine with yourself you will find the experience more enjoyable or at least less grueling.
We first meet Amanda Post (Susan Bracken who pouts and snarls her way through the entire film) in a flash back to 1962 where her mother is murdered by an intruder who had earlier made some intimidating anonymous phone calls. Amanda sees her dead mother but not the assailant. We zoom forward to the 70’s where Amanda returns to the town and house to care for her ailing grandmother (who looks a lot like Buddy Epsen to me) after receiving some anonymous phone calls. See, like her mom did? There are not that many characters in the film and almost all the action takes place in the house. The only times the camera really ventures out f the house is to a local doll museum and old train car (both actual local landmarks of Jefferson Texas where the film was shot) where we are treated to riveting acting by the mayor and curator who have conflicting interests in acquiring the old house, for reasons I must have missed when fast-forwarding the slow parts. Of which there are many. Added to the dynamic ensemble is a totally chauvinistic 70’s doctor and an old school house calling type town doctor who do not see eye to eye on the treatment for the old lady who lies in bed muttering “museum” all day.
There are some attempts at genuine creepy and sleazy moments when a phone calling perv taunts and peeps on Amanda while hidden in the walls of the house. He gets her to perform a naughty sex act on herself while he strangles a doll and breathes all predator like into the phone. There is no doubt as to which of the characters the sleaze ball is and the film tries to be some sort of study, I guess, into psycho-sexual stalking freaks with exaggerated sissy southern accents. As the pace of the film “quickens” towards the end we are treated to weird druggy style camera work and voices with lots of echo and reverb. As some other reviewers noted some of the camera work appears to have some influence by the likes of Mario Bava and Dario Argento, but those moments are few and far between and the connection may be projections of a flustered viewer trying hard to gild the lily whenever possible. There are lots of slow stair case climbing sequences trying to take advantage of the beautiful interior of the house (know as The House of Seasons by locals). At the end are treated to a sure sign of insanity in the form of Amanda rocking in a rocking chair and doing baby faces to herself. The music is of the standard 70's style jazzy improv stuff with walking bass lines that do not fit in with the 'action" on the screen at all. It all sounds like it could have worked in a TV detective show or porn movie of the period just as effectively. And when all and said done I have no clue as to what door it is one supposed to not open. The movie is of the old drive-in theater variety that played the southern drive-in circuit on some sort of triple bill most likely. Not the worst movie in the world - better than Teenage Tramp which I am trying to finish now- but it took me two settings and some fast-forwarding to get through.