Saw a Takashi Miike picture called The Great Yokai War. "Yokai" is a Japanese term for monsters from folklore, as opposed to the more familiar kaiju. It's a kids' picture, about a young boy from Tokyo sent out to live in the countryside with his older sister and his intermittently senile grandfather. When a vengeful spirit appears, the boy gets caught up in a war between warring groups of yokai and must find his courage to become the "Kirin Rider", the hero who will set everything to rights. It's not a bad picture - nothing deep, but an amusing story. Some of the yokai are really trippy, Japanese folklore can get pretty "out there", apparently.

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We watched Vast of Night, and have similar reactions to yours, JD. My wife actually said out loud,"It sure had a slow start." And neither of us liked the  ending, which borrowed too much from CE3K. Nevertheless, we both enjoyed the bulk of it, which I think can be attributed to the lead actors (neither of which were actually teenagers, but were convincing) and a sense of pacing that was so good I noticed it.

Lop off the first 15 minutes, and cut out any scene that removes the mystery, and it would be great Twilight Zone episode. One we'd all remember.

Watched Dracula A.D. 1972, primarily because I wasn't  allowed to see it in 1972. I was too young, my mother said, and I couldn't go. Since she would have to drive me there, her argument won the day.

So now I've watched it, and ... wow, it's terrible. Most of the movie spends its time making fun of "the youth," who spend their time at coffee shops, but are irreverent and piss off their stodgy elders. Oh no!

It takes more than half the movie to get Dracula into the picture, and it's Christopher Lee, so that's great, and he's fighting a Van Helsing, played by Peter Cushing, which is also great, but honestly, what gets them together to fight is so preposterous that it bugged the back of my brain the whole time.

"Give me an hour, inspector, and I will fix this vampire thing!" That's not exactly what Cushing says, but close enough, and he goes into the vampire's lair alone, even though there are dead bodies strewn about, which means he could bring in the entire Metropolitan Police Force, but he doesn't, which is just plain stupid.

And the inspector holds the cops off, even thought the idea of vampires is preposterous, and nobody points out that he's not doing his job. There are murders, inspector, so you have to go in. But no. "I'm not sure I believe you, professor," he sort of says, "but I'm going to be ineffectual and absent for most of this movie, despite having more screen time than Christopher Lee, and I won't do a damn thing until a self-professed vampire hunter goes into the crime scene to see who's dead or not. If you need me, I'll be in my office saying 'Hmmm.' "

Well, who cares. We know how this is going to end, and it does. The great-granddaughter Van Helsing with the big tits is saved, although the non-Van Helsing brunette with the big tits is not. In fact, a half dozen people are killed, and nobody gives a crap, because the girl who survives is third on the call sheet.

Whoof.

And I could swear that the brunette with the big boobs who dies early on is the same one I saw a jillion times in The Monster Times with her face punctured by an Iron Maiden -- the still, in my mind, is famous -- but IMDb is not helpful in this regard. But I have seen those eyes and tits before, IMDb! You are lying to me!

Also, I should mention that the person who resurrects Dracula is named "Alucard," which is a dead giveaway for any fan of Silver Age comics edited by Julius Schwatrz. The character is dropped halfway through the move, so we never learn why he has that name, or how he knows how to resurrect Dracula. He just does, and with his function achieved, he disappears.

And I have wondered for more than 40 years why the makers of this movie inserted "A.D." into the title. I mean, Dracula didn't come along until the 1500s or so, so you don't need to distinguish versus B.C. And we know he's "after death," but he's not Jesus. So what's the point?

Turns out there isn't one. Dracula is really only in about the last third of the movie. The title doesn't mean anything. The movie didn't meant anything. It's all pretty much really bad English movie-making of the early '70s variety.

So cheers, mate! You and your bird can get down with some [insert some term that no one ever used], yeah? Then you can forget this movie ever happened..

Just checked Christopher Lee's filmography. He played Dracula just three times between 1958 and 1968. He then played Drac five times in just four years from 1970 to 1973 with three Dracula films in 1970 alone! No wonder he became fed up with the role.  All except Count Dracula, one of the 1970 releases, were done for Hammer Films.

Or a comic written (or edited) by DJ Arneson.



Captain Comics said:

Also, I should mention that the person who resurrects Dracula is named "Alucard," which is a dead giveaway for any fan of Silver Age comics edited by Julius Schwatrz. The character is dropped halfway through the move, so we never learn why he has that name, or how he knows how to resurrect Dracula. He just does, and with his function achieved, he disappears.

DRACULA A.D. 1972: Several years ago, after a "Universal Studios" moster movie phase, we went through a "Hammer Studios" monster movie phase (and by "we" a mean "me" and I dragged Tracy along with me). "Common knowledge" has it that "you can't judge a book by looking at its cover," but that is absolutely untrue (at least, it's not true anymore). One can also judge a DVD by looking at its packaging. I particularly remember that Dracula A.D. 1972 was packaged together with two other low-budget horrot flicks. You can tell the good Hammer flicks by their packaging.

DEATHSTALKER AND THE WARRIORS FROM HELL (a.k.a. DEATHSTALKER 3), MST3K: Another one of Tracy's online picks for the seventh season. she somehow misinterpreted the scale. It was pretty bad.

DVD packaging can also create problems by giving away major plot points (The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance) and misstating historical facts, such as calling Vietnam "America's bloodiest war" on an early version of the Hamburger Hill DVD.

As part of TCM's Jazz on Film series, this weekend we watched Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser, a documentary that uses footage from the late 60s, but was put together with  interviews in the late 80s, six years after the jazz great's death. The music is great, of course, and it's a thrill watching Monk create it. But we also see signs of his decline, at a point where maybe they could be brushed off as eccentricities by people who didn't know him well. I didn't know a lot about the man, and am definitely glad I saw it. 

We also saw Les Blank's  Always for Pleasure, an hour-long doc that drifts along various parades and celebrations in New Orleans in 1977. It's a treat to see some of the people I've known as statesmen of New Orleans music -- Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint, the Neville Brothers -- appear before the pedestals they're on reached their current height. And, as always, it's a joy to see the streets of New Orleans bustle with revelry.

But there are also some moments that hit like a punch, and shows that the good times are at best a band-aid on underlying inequality. (And I apologize for the coarse language in the quote here; if I could convey the force of it another way, I would)  Some of these celebrations are integrated; others are clearly not, except maybe at the margins. One of people interviewed for the film, a black man, was talking about dressing up for Mardi Gras...and how that kind of togetherness is fleeting. He says something like "You wanna be Batman, you can be Batman. But tomorrow, you're gonna still be a n****r."

I idealize New Orleans. It's the place in this world I love the most. But you've got to pay attention to a statement like that. It comes from hard experience.

Re-watched The Beast from  20,000 Fathoms and Them!.

Oh, man, I love Them! Got to see it on a big screen once, when the Trocadero in Philly would show old movies on Monday nights. 

It's the best of the 50's "big bug" movies.  I've watched it over fifty times, easily.

Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) said:

Oh, man, I love Them! Got to see it on a big screen once, when the Trocadero in Philly would show old movies on Monday nights. 

Me too!
Do you think Peter Graves was jealous of James Arness?

Well, he did do his own "big bug" movie.

Doctor Hmmm? said:

Me too!
Do you think Peter Graves was jealous of James Arness?

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