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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The odd thing for me about Queen of Blood (1966) is that they spend two-thirds of the movie on scenes that involve the reused special effects but set up remarkably little. The alien killer on the ship (a plot that first made it to film-- I think-- in It! The Terror From Beyond Space in 1958) and which also involves a Mars expedition) takes up the last third of the movie.

Interestingly the aliens aren’t from Mars, but crash landed there from a “distant galaxy.”

That's right. One ship was found on Mars and another on Phobos, and the astronauts made a whole lot of assumptions with no proof whatsoever about how the situation came about.

I probably know people like that...

Oh, sure. (My sister, for one.) 

...the annoying music and beeps (etc) that they inflicted on us whenever no one was talking.

Like on Star Trek?

At the end Basil Rathbone was the villain, unintentional or not.

Tracy and I are screaming at the screen. He's not even wearing gloves!

I watched Queen of Outer Space a while back. Meh.

The foot soldiers wore dresses exactly the same colors as would later be used in Star Trek: red, blue and gold.

Last night we did our usual "Superbowl" lineup with one new one added.

"You Gotta Be a Football Hero" - Popeye - 1935

"The Pigskin Palooka" - Our Gang - 1937

"Three Little Pigskins" - The Three Stooges - 1934

New to the lineup is "The Pigskin Palooka" and missing is Horsefeathers  (The Marx Brothers, 1932) because we watched a different, non-football-related, feature.

DAIMAJIN: I remember watching this movie on TV around the time I was in the first grade. It collided upon me at roughly the same time as Goldfinger and The Graduate, all three of which had lasting effect. In the '90s, the office building in which I worked was connected to a failing mall, and I would sometimes ride the elevator down from the 18th floor to the mall level for lunch. There was a video store on the the third floor of the mall which had a set of three Daimajin movies. I hadn't seen the original in 25 years or so at that point, so I bought it. I later went back for The Return of Daimajin but, before I got the chance to buy the Wrath of Daimajin the store had closed. One day it was there, the next it was gone, just like that.

Anyway, it must be 20 years or so since I first told this story here and, within a week, I had a dubbed VHS copy of The Wrath of Daimajin. (Thanks, Bob!) Tracy and I watched all three at that time, but I don't think we've watched them since. I remember the first as being the best of the three, but I didn't remember how long it took for the action to get started. In typical godlike fashion, Daimajin doesn't begin to stir until an hour and a half into the movie when the evil chamberlain orders a chisel driven into the stone statue's head with a sledgehammer. Until he was attacked directly, the god was perfectly content to let his worshippers suffer, which they had been doing for ten years. He doesn't go on the rampage until an hour and 45 minutes in, but those last 15 minutes after that are great! I had remembered this story (of a stone idol with a benevolent and a "pissed" face) as being a Jack Kirby monster story brought to the screen, but maybe it was the sequels I was thinking of. 

Friday night I went to see Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan at the Count Basie Theater in Red Bank, NJ. It had been ages since I saw this one, so I jumped at the chance to see it in a theater, with a talk by William Shatner afterward. There's so much good in this movie -- the acting, the contemplation of aging and death, the score, the earwig, the space battles, and Kahn himself! -- that you can't help but love it. 

Shatner's talk afterward was funny and studiously off-the-rails: He'd get asked a question, he'd spend 15 minutes not answering it, then circle back around to the answer... or in one case (favorite episode), an explanation of why he wasn't answering it, and really couldn't. It was quite a performance, projecting confidence, arrogance, good cheer, and a sly, slightly cranky "I'm speaking my mind and you can't stop me" feeling that comes with old age. Pretty much exactly what we wanted.

This weekend I watched  Joel & Ethan Coen's The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

This is my second time watching this; I watched it soon after it premiered on Netflix back in 2018.

This time, I broke up my viewing over 3 nights, watching the first three all at once, then All Gold Canyon on its own, and finally The Girl Who Got Rattled and The Mortal Remains last night. I think, on the whole, the movie benefitted from being broken up -- it gave me time to think about each episode on its own. 

My favorite might be The Girl Who Got Rattled. The tentative romance between Alice Longabough and Billy Knapp is so sweet, and it's sad end is rooted in its sweetness (in my reading, at least): Billy can't bring himself to kill the dog (even though he's offered to), and just shoots to scare it away -- which Alice finds endearing. But the dog sticks around, Alice finds him, and that leads to the scene at the end. 

But every story has something to recommend it. All Gold Canyon has Waits's cockeyed determination to find "Mister Pocket." The Mortal Remains features a conversation that starts out silly (are people like ferrets?) and ends up in dread. Meal Ticket is the saddest of the bunch, just hopelessness all the way down, whether you're talking about how much we value art, or how much we value our fellow man. The opener has Buster's psychopathic goofiness, full of perfect Coen moments at their silliest. And while Near Algodones is probably my least favorite of the bunch, it has Stephen Root playing a cranky old coot with a gun, and that's never a bad thing. Also: It gave us one hell of a meme.

The text in the book, by the way, is beautiful. As I watched the movie, I paused to read the opening and final paragraphs of each story, and they're great. And don't skip the dedication in the book's front pages -- it's a great joke.


I'm pretty sure that The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is the only Coen Brothers movie I haven't seen. I'll have to correct that.

The alien killer on the ship (a plot that first made it to film-- I think-- in It! The Terror From Beyond Space in 1958)...

...and probably first made it into books in Dracula (1897), which Queen of Blood also reminded me of.

The Woman King (2022), a fictional film inspired by some real history. I've long been interested in the Agojie / Dahomey Amazons, and this is a well-acted film with impressive production values that makes them central.

I caught the final hour of Murder Inc. last night. A very noir-ish 1950's take on organized crime featuring Peter Falk as one of the wise guy hit men.

I saw the award-winning 2017 short film "Two Strangers Who Meet Five Times." It's available free online (YouTube, Vimeo) and packs more into 12 minutes than many longer, big-budget movies.

Just watched it. Wow!

JD DeLuzio said:

I saw the award-winning 2017 short film "Two Strangers Who Meet Five Times." It's available free online (YouTube, Vimeo) and packs more into 12 minutes than many longer, big-budget movies.

After two recommendations like that, we just watched "Two Strangers Who Meet Five Times." I liked it, but it did not end the way I thought it was going to. 

In other news, we received our 200 "Cult Cinema Classics" today (one day later than expected), but we did not have time to watch any because Tracy had to work late. I did locate Cindy & Donna, though (disc 10, side B), so we're going to start with that one (tomorrow). After that, though, we'll be watching them in disc order. One movie we won't be watching, however, is Idaho Transfer. The folks at Mill Creek Entertainment must really like that one because it's on at least three of their sets. We watched it the first time on purpose, the second time by accident, and Tracy says there's no way in hell she's watching it a third time! 

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