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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Glengarry Glen Ross - I rewatched this for about the millionth time the other day, and one thing struck me. They brought the only copies of the Glengarry leads to that particular office? Yeah, I'm victim blaming, they deserved to get stolen. Honestly, though, I still love this movie. a great cast with a great script.

Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him?) - I watched this documentary about the artist last night, and I thought it was really good. I love docs like this because I learn so much about someone I know virtually nothing about. I know the hits, and that he had passed away. That is it. He definitely lived the rock and roll lifestyle. Highly recommended.

GOLD RAIDERS (1951): Typical of a Three Stooges short of the era, but feature-length. With Shemp.

I'll have to check out that Nilsson documentary.  A couple years ago I watched the Leon Russell documentary A Poem is a Naked Person and had a similar experience. (It actually also got me into the documentaries of Les Blank, who's fantastic.)

I just watched Five Against the House, featured on TCM's Noir Alley a couple weeks ago. It's a casino heist movie centered on a handful of Korean War vets in college on the GI Bill. (This only partially mitigates the fact that they look like the world's oldest college students, up to and including Rodney Dangerfield.) It's not great, but I like the dialogue in it, and for some reason I kept mapping the four war buddies (Kim Novak makes 5) to the DC heroes I'd cast them as. So if you want to see Barry Allen, Ray Palmer, Guy Gardner and Johnny Thunder knock over a casino (with the help of Black Canary), this is your movie, I guess.

KOOK'S TOUR (1970): The last Three Stooges "movie" (unreleased). It was intended to be the pilot for a television series in which the "retired" Stooges toured the world, but Larry Fine succumbed to a debilitating stroke and it was re-edited into a "film" (released on 8mm). 

Never seen this.  I was always a little afraid to see it, that it would be them as sad old dudes way past their primes.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

KOOK'S TOUR (1970): The last Three Stooges "movie" (unreleased). It was intended to be the pilot for a television series in which the "retired" Stooges toured the world, but Larry Fine succumbed to a debilitating stroke and it was re-edited into a "film" (released on 8mm). 

"I was always a little afraid to see it, that it would be them as sad old dudes way past their primes."

That it is. It's no worse than the interstitial live action bits they did for their '60s cartoon show, though. 

THE LITTLE RASCALS (1994): We have been watching Hal Roach's original Our Gang shorts from 1929 through 1936 (so far), and I've been supplementing my viewing with YouTube videos comparing locations shots then and now (most from L.A. and Culver City, Ca.). Tracy and I have watched all of TV and were looking for something to watch tonight when the 1994 movie popped up. "Ya wanna watch that?" one of us asked. "Sure, why not?" It was actually better that I expected. I almost certain at least some of the scenes were filmed where original Our Gang shorts were. If not, the neighborhoods were all older ones with original houses built in the '20s or so. Lots of cameos. We got a nasty shock when we saw who played Waldo's father. 

I had to go and look that up.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

. We got a nasty shock when we saw who played Waldo's father. 

The year before Scarlet Street Lang made The Woman in the Window with the same lead actors.

Other dark drams of the era starring Robinson include The Red House (1947) and The Stranger (1946) (directed by and starring Orson Welles). He has a role in Double Indemnity (1944) but is more a supporting character there. In the 1960s he played Al Magone in Green Lantern #55-#56.

Richard Willis said:

Looking at Varney the Vampire online, it was serialized in a penny dreadful/dime novel. The author was paid by the typeset line. I think it's longer than War and Peace.

I listened to/read a good chunk many years back. It's like sub-par Dickens. From early in the book there's an idea that vampires are restored to life by moonlight. Some parts treat Varney's supernature as faked and some as real, so it's my guess it had more than one author.


In the opening chapter Varney enters a woman's bedroom to feed. I once saw a clip on Youtube from Count Yorga, Vampire and was struck by its similarity.

Vampires in folklore are really, I think, a type of malignant ghost. The aristocratic predator vampire stems from John Polidori's story The Vampyre (1819). (My hat-tip to whoever it was put it that way.) This was a European hit, adapted to the stage in France. My impression is a fair amount of vampire fiction was produced in 19th century France but I'm not on top of this. Some number of works have been translated into English by Black Coat Press.

Since vampires are dead already, you can't kill them. You deanimate them.

Luke Blanchard said:

The year before Scarlet Street Lang made The Woman in the Window with the same lead actors.

I recently watched these back-to-back. IMDB trivia tells us that Fritz Lang made Scarlet Street, a different adaptation of the same story, because he was disappointed in what the studio forced him to do with the ending of The Woman in the Window. I completely agree with his reasons.

Two largely forgotten flicks from the 70s. The Grasshopper and Tilt. Reposted from reviews I did elsewhere this month:

Early:

In between playing the stewardess in the trend-setting if dumb disaster movie, Airport, and giving a well-received performance in the occultic horror-film The Mephisto Waltz, Jacqueline Bisset starred in this aimless yet over-plotted film. It's 1970; we've entered possibly the only decade when this thing would have been greenlit.

Bisset, then 27, plays 19-year-old Christine from small town British Columbia who thumbs her way to L.A. to meet her boyfriend, who works at a California bank. En route she takes a detour through Las Vegas, where she meets several important people. Unable to sustain a relationship with her staid boyfriend, the adventurous Christine hops back to Vegas, where she gets a job as a chorus girl after flashing the casino boss.

Over the next three years, she becomes involved with various Vegas types, including some reasonably well-portrayed queer folk. Yes, these scenes feature exploitation, stereotype, and slurs, but the gay characters prove among the most likeable in the film. For 1970, the representation is stellar. And The Grasshopper is a product of the era, with frequent drug use, casual sex, near and brief nudity, and the gang settling down for a TV kaiju marathon. Perhaps the highlight, the scene features various people making out while the monster movie tosses lines like, "don't go down there!" and "dive into his mouth!"

Yeah, I said highlight.

Christine's new gay best friend introduces her to a terrible rock band called the Ice Pack who have "the tightest pants." The casino boss introduces her to a corrupt and vile businessman (Joseph Cotten) who "likes 'em young." His regular girlfriend, a 17-year-old who acts about 13, gets played for laughs, because people back then thought the sexual use of minors was hilarious. Christine also falls in love with ex-football star Tommy Marcott (Jim Brown), and they join in ill-fated matrimony.

Christine makes her way from ingénue to semi-nude dancer to call girl, and then....

Is this movie, then, a good movie? Well, no. But, as Jacqueline Bisset opined, it has some "good bits." Former NFL star Brown proves once again that he was, in the words of one reviewer, a "serviceable actor." The film really needed to focus on something for more than ten minutes. The tension between its heroine's decadent but supportive friends and her respectability-seeking lover/husband might have made a good choice, since those "bits" feature the most credible characterizations and interactions.

If you're really into the films and ethos of the 1970s, you might find The Grasshopper interesting in places. As a bonus, Penny Marshall makes a pre-Laverne and Shirley appearance as a Plaster Caster. Overall, however, it earns its status as a forgotten film.

Late:

In between the notoriety of Pretty Baby (1976) and the commercial, if not critical, success of The Blue Lagoon (1980), Brooke Shields appeared in a handful of films that were panned, given limited release, forgotten, or all of the above. Tilt was the only one of them I've seen, and the only one I ever wanted to see. I was an adolescent in the era, and this movie concerns pinball.

Tilt rests in the Venn Diagram overlap of '70s grindhouse, After-School Special, and road movie. It features a wannabe country/rock star and con artist, Neil Gallagher (Ken Marshall). He gets run out of Corpus Christi after rigging a pinball table and trying to win against local bar-owner and silver ball wiz, "The Whale," played by veteran actor Charles Durning.

Despite his singing talent, ol' Neil encounters roadblocks in the City of Angels. He hopes to earn the money to record a demo by exploiting a fourteen-year-old runaway. Nicknamed "Tilt," she operates out of Mickey's bar, where she hustles pinball and shares the profits with the owner.

He convinces her to head cross-country with him. She'll win at pinball bets, he'll handle other matters, and they'll split the earnings. It's made clear that, despite sharing (two bed) motel rooms, their relationship is not sexual, so at least he's not that sort of predator. He does, however, take more than his share of the profits.

Tensions build as they make their way back to Corpus Christi.

The film has a few redeeming elements. Charles Durning, arguably the best thing in this movie, gives an entertaining performance as the Whale. Long-time character actor Geoffrey Lewis has an uncomfortably hilarious cameo as a trucker who gives "Tilt" a lift. He rants about the decline of America while trying to score with the minor.

Tilt was filmed in 1978 and given limited release in 1979. Poor responses from audiences led to it being re-edited and then shelved. In the 1980s it received heavy rotation on television. And that's where it belonged, even if it arrived there too late to be timely. If I had paid good money to see this in its original run anywhere but at a drive-in, I'd have been disappointed. But on TV, in an era when The Love Boat drew top ratings and Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway passed as edgy social commentary? The film is entertaining enough for that place and time. It survives as a compendium of the attitudes, styles, landscape, look-- and pinball parlours-- of the late 70s.

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