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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HOUSE OF HORRORS: This is the first of a proposed series of films starring Rondo Hatton as "The Creeper." Only one other (The Brute Man) was filmed due to Hatton's untimely death, whose disfigurement from acromegaly brought him many minot roles in Hollywood, including his first appearance in the Sherlock Holmes film, The Pearl of Death. And, of course, Dave Steven's "cast" him in The Rocketeer (the graphic novel, I mean, not the movie).

I've never seen House of Horrors.  I do have the MST3K episode of The Brute Man, which contains one of my all-time favorite show moments.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

HOUSE OF HORRORS: This is the first of a proposed series of films starring Rondo Hatton as "The Creeper." Only one other (The Brute Man) was filmed due to Hatton's untimely death, whose disfigurement from acromegaly brought him many minot roles in Hollywood, including his first appearance in the Sherlock Holmes film, The Pearl of Death. And, of course, Dave Steven's "cast" him in The Rocketeer (the graphic novel, I mean, not the movie).

Mark Gatiss' character Gantok in the Doctor Who story "The Wedding of River Song" was credited to "Rondo Haxton".

We finally watched something that's been lying around the house, unopened, for far too long: Bring On the Night. It's a documentary/video press release of Sting's 1985 tour just after he left The Police and went solo.

The film covers nine days of rehearsals and opening night, all in Paris. The band was put together just for this project, and part of the narrative is how they jell. Sting is, of course, this very white, very British rock guitar god, and the rest of the crew are all Black, all Americans (most of them New Yorkers, to boot), and all with serious jazz chops. Saxophonist Branford Marsalis played for Art Blakey; bassist Darryl Jones played with Miles Davis; drummer Omar Hakim played with Weather Report; pianist/keyboard player Kenny Kirkland played with Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis and Delfeayo Marsalis. Even backup singers Dolette McDonald and Janice Pendarvis have worked with, well, everybody.

The band rehearsed in a cool mansion somewhere in Paris, and we see them work hard to make sure everyone hits the right notes at the right times. There's fun -- at one point, they play "Meet the Flintstones," and at another, a tour group of about 30 elderly people come trooping through. Nobody stops what they are doing; the tour guide keeps pointing out the art on the wall ("Now here's a portrait of Napoleon") and one old lady makes her way through with her fingers in her ears. Another one, in a wheelchair, however, rocks to the beat. 

There are side excursions, like when Sting does a photo shoot on the streets of Paris for tour publicity, and his photographer has him playing around with kids and splashing in a water fountain. Sting's wife, Trudie Styler, is very pregnant, and the film shows them slipping away one night to a hospital to deliver their second child, Jake. 

There are also interviews with the band members, who are personable and have good stories. Branford Marsalis insists he's a musician, not a rock star. Darryl Jones isn't sure this experiment is going to work out because it isn't and can't be a melding of equals. Dolette McDonald tells that she had been an English teacher before she was a singer. Janice Pendarvis had a long-ago job as the receptionist in a house of ill repute, booking appointments for the johns. Kenny Kirkland and Omar Hakim are excited to be there.

And there's the great music. Some stuff from Sting's days with The Police ("Bring On the Night/When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Be..., "Driven to Tears", "I Burn for You", "Message in a Bottle") some stuff from Sting's solo album The Dream of the Blue Turtles ("Consider Me Gone", "Fortress Around Your Heart", "Shadows in the Rain", "We Work the Black Seam", "Children's Crusade" ) some medleys ("The Dream of the Blue Turtles/Demolition Man"), and more.

I am particularly partial to the version of "Bring on the Night/When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around" from the concert album. The band really shines, here, especially Kenny Kirkland on the piano. Too bad he's no longer with us.


My favorite Sting album is Nothing Like the Sun (an allusion to my second favorite Shakespearian sonnet). In addition to "Sister Moon" (the song from which the album draws its title), it includes Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" (also covered by Eric Clapton). A three-song mini-CD from the same time includes "Englishman in New York" (from the album), plus Sting;s version of "Someone to Watch Over Me" (one of the best covers of this song I've heard) plus another Hendrix tune, "Up From the Skies."

MAN MADE MONSTER: One of the (deservedly so) lesser known of the Universal Studios monster films. To be perfectly honest, I never really saw the draw of Lon Chaney, Jr. In this movie (again deservedly so), he gets second billing to Lionel Atwill. Atwill plays a mad-scientist type who turns Chaney into the titular monster. It's based on a pulp titled "The electrical Man" but there's no comparison to Frankenstein, Dracula, et al. 

My favorite Sting album is Ten Summoner's Tales. It's one of those albums you can listen to from beginning to end with no bad tracks. 

My favorite track on Ten Summoner's Tales is "Love Is Stronger Than Justice," which Sting once described as "a spaghetti Western in 7/4 time." I like to picture this tune as a graphic novel drawn by José Luis García-López and Tony DeZuniga. 

That's a somewhat different arrangement than the album version, isn't it? Picking a favorite Sting album is only slightly easier than picking a favorite Beatles album. The last Sting album I bought (on CD) was 57th & 9th, and I'm ashamed to say I haven't even filed it away yet. I have a "heavy rotation" pile, and I'm "ashamed" it's still there because I have really listened to it often enough to shelve it. (I have as many unfiled CDs as I do unfiled comics.) Tomorrow; I'll listen to it again tomorrow.

I think it's the same arrangement, save for the ending. 

Re: MAN MADE MONSTER

Yes it was a minor work and in some ways an early version of his much later, campier Indestructible Man but it was also his "test" at Universal if he could be an effective movie monster. Obviously he passed!

I watched It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) for the first time in years as it was a favorite of my father's. Unfortunately I don't think that it aged very well, being too long and having most of the characters be unlikeable! But this may well be most people's chance of seeing comic legends like Sid Caesar, Milton Berle and Phil Silvers together as well as "young" Jonathan Winters, Buddy Hackett and Dick Shawn.

Cameos go from Jack Benny to Buster Keaton to Jerry Lewis to the Three Stooges!

Wow, yeah. We saw it a couple of months ago. Too long. Much of it has aged badly, as in, fossils of soft-bodied animals. There are a lot of good people together in the film, but some of the talent and many of the cameos are wasted. The Stooges just show up and stand there for a shot.

Philip Portelli said:

I watched It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) for the first time in years as it was a favorite of my father's. Unfortunately I don't think that it aged very well, being too long and having most of the characters be unlikeable! But this may well be most people's chance of seeing comic legends like Sid Caesar, Milton Berle and Phil Silvers together as well as "young" Jonathan Winters, Buddy Hackett and Dick Shawn.

Cameos go from Jack Benny to Buster Keaton to Jerry Lewis to the Three Stooges!

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad Mad World was one of my brother's favorite movies. It never did a whole lot for me, which is odd because I would think it would be the other way around (that I would like it more than my brother). My favorite scene is the three Stooges cameo... because they don't say anything. They don't have to!

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