Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saturday Night at the Movies 2/28/15!

Who cares what picture we see?

Jamie Donahue seems like she would - so let's go with this one tonight...

While there's no denying there is a glut of zombie movies out there - and that the bulk of them are crap - there are some fun movies in there too. Here's a low budget Full Moon movie from 2000 - and it's not bad.

Nothing is extraordinary about it - the story is familiar - young filmmakers shooting a horror movie in an abandoned something or other accidentally revive a bad guy with the power to bring the dead back - the acting is just okay - but the effects are good and the movie moves along at a good clip.

Maybe not a gem, but worth watching - and on DVD in the video vault in case you don't hate the idea of coming over and watching it with me...tonight, even...

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Candid Tamara!

Cleopatra Jones  (Warner Bros., 1973)

Before the Camera:

Tamara Dobson  (Chained Heat)
Bernie Casey  (Never Say Never Again)
Shelley Winters  (The Poseidon Adventure)
Brenda Sykes  (Mandingo)
Antonio Fargas  (TV's Starsky and Hutch)
Paul Koslo  (The Omega Man)
Dan Frazer  (Lord Love a Duck)
Bill McKinney  (Deliverance)
Stafford Morgan  (Zebra Force)
Michael Warren  (TV's Hill Street Blues)
Albert Popwell  (Every Dirty Harry movie)
Caro Kenyatta  (The Young Nurses)
Esther Rolle  (TV's Good Times)
Jay Montgomery  (Black Gunn)
Angela Elayne Gibbs  (Number One with a Bullet)
John Alderman  (Malibu Express)
Eugene Jackson  (Coffy)
George Reynolds  (Dahmer vs Gacy)
Joe Tornatore  (Sweet Jesus, Preacherman)
Christopher Joy  (Seven)
Teddy Wilson  (Cotton Comes to Harlem)
Don Cornelius ... Himself 

Behind the Camera:

Directed by Jack Starrett

Produced by Max Julien and Bill Tennant

Written by Max Julien and Sheldon Keller from a story by Max Julien

Warner Bros jumped on the blaxploitation Bandwagon in the early 70's with this ripsnorting and funky comic book pitting African American Amazon Tamara Dobson against Whiny WASP Whackjob Shelley Winters. The story jumps right in as US Special Agent Cleopatra Jones (Dobson) arrives on foreign soil and takes over an operation to blow up some poppy fields - thus allowing this film to thumb its nose at James Bond - who had to blow up poppy fields as his climax in his concurrent release Live and Let Die - but Cleopatra Jones is just getting started, baby! We then pop back to the States to discover this legally sanctioned pyromania has not gone down well with the Crime Queen known as "Mommy" (!) (Winters). 

This hit to Mommy's pocketbook has torked her off royally - and now she wants Cleopatra Jones DEAD. Mommy scores first blood by somehow causing a local community center Cleo watches over to be hit by a surprise drug raid. Center honcho Reuben (Casey) knows there are no drugs to be found - but then some are. This brings Cleo running back to the U.S. and we get to sit back and watch as the lithe Ms. Jones cleans the clocks of several of Mommy's henchmen, mainly through the use of a not-particularly-fast style of kung fu that is nonetheless devastating to those it is used on. 

And while the two ladies circle each other at a distance, Doodlebug Simkins (Fargas), an enterprising lieutenant in Mommy's army begins to cut the apron strings and stakes out his own territory, starting with some of the film's running time as this becomes the major subplot in the picture. And although this puts Mommy at the disadvantage of battling on two fronts, she is more than up to the task, sending her minions out to do the dirty work while she lays back, scheming her dark schemes and periodically bellowing orders that sometimes only dogs can hear. Will even so formidable a woman as Cleopatra Jones be able to topple Mommy and her crime empire?

Cleo shows Mommy a very different meaning to
the word smack.

The Blaxploitation era started out with glimmers of the genre appearing in two studio released movies: They Call Me MISTER Tibbsand Cotton Comes to Harlem, both released in 1971. And then - as these things often do - in the independent film world, a talented filmmaker built on those elements; in this case Melvin Van Peebles and his classic Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, which is now acknowledged as the first true film in the Blaxploitation cycle, released in 1971. After that everyone got in on the game, with more studio efforts - like Shaft - and more independents - such as Superfly - hitting the Big Screen on a regular basis as the 1970's continued. Most of these efforts were hard edged R rated flicks, with copious amounts of profanity, nudity, and graphic violence flying every which way onscreen. 

In an attempt to bring in an even bigger audience than was usual for these popular motion pictures, Warner Bros. decided to pull back on those elements a bit for their Cleopatra Jones, going with a PG rating. Sometimes this just results in a watered down product, but not here - this movie still has an edge; there's still drugs being dealt, people being shot, and plentiful action like chases and fights, and it works! Colorful and fast moving, the flick plays out like a Big Screen Comic Book, and it is a lot of fun! The film is directed by Jack Starrett, and this interesting fellow deserves a quick digression: Starrett started out as an actor, appearing in several biker movies in the 60's (like Al Adamson's Hell's Bloody Devils, reviewed in this bloghere) He also played Gabby Johnson in Blazing Saddles! He moved into directing, making several low budget action flicks that are all worth a look. After that it was back to acting, with his other most recognizable role being the nasty Deputy Galt - who wants to shave Rambo...dry -  in First Blood in 1982. Wild! And digression over.

I hate digressions.

Starrett handles his duties just fine here, making the most of the script by Max Julien - another actor! - best known as Goldie inThe Mack - and Sheldon Keller. The pace never flags, and the mayhem is orchestrated well and dealt out in regular doses.

    The late great Tamara Dobson is spectacular as Cleo; tall (6'2''!), dour, sardonic, and funny. She's not the fastest martial artist I've ever seen, but no matter how fast or slow the actress is, the character is exactly fast enough to lay waste to anyone foolish enough to challenge her. That the martial arts sequences were choreographed by Master Bong Soo Han (Klan from the "Fistful of Yen" segment of Kentucky Fried Movie) just makes them all the cooler. Shelley Winters reaches her screechy peak here, allowed by Starrett to not just chew the scenery, but to consume it in great fist fulls. She's a bit shrill, perhaps, but perfect for the movie. The supporting cast, led by the always-welcome Fargas, are all up to the game, sailing through with just a hint of a wink here and there. Standouts include Albert Popwell (the baddie in the original Dirty Harry who "gots to know...", and a supporting cast member in all of the sequels) and Caro Kenyatta as the brothers Johnson - two tough guys with hearts of gold enlisted by Cleo to assist her Mommy-mashing mission; and Bill McKinney, always hissable as a baddie and the reason Ned Beatty hasn't had a prostate exam since Deliverance. You also get a cameo from Mr. Soul Train himself - Don Cornelius! And an extra shout out goes to Paul Koslo as one of Mommy's most vicious henchmen, pulling off a successful British accent and saddled with the worst hair he's ever sported cinematically.   

    Speaking of cinematic, Dobson's fashions - designed mostly by the lady herself - must also be mentioned...though this fashion challenged movie blogger is going to let another writer describe the clothing on display...I'm not saying where I got it from...but it starts with a W and ends edia...."rich reds and yellows, tailored pantsuits, clinging silk shirts, voluptuous fur jackets, turbans, silk headdresses, and hooded capes." They are amazing, and Dobson wears them all with panache. My favorite is a kind of three toned bathrobe dress, split to the bellybutton, with Dobson in red nylons and platform heels - the actress cuts quite a figure in this outfit, and it gets well nigh incredible when those long legs come flashing out in kung fu kicks. 

And here it is now!

And while we're sticking in all these extra photos - here's one that shows you just what a striking and statuesque figure Ms. Dobson really was - here she is with Woody Allen on the streets of New York City in 1972:


But it's time to wrap this one up - the movie is a splendid piece of cinematic bubblegum, highly recommended to action junkies, so definitely check this one out!

Let's Get Out of Here ?

At around 58:26, Joe Tornatore realizes that the bird has flown. 

Eye Candy ?

Do you even need to ask?

Hello to the newest winner, Ms. Tamara Dobson!

Buddha Man Sez: 

"You'll have a Jones for Cleopatra!"

Amen, BM! And til next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Maniacal Movie Poster Monday #204!

Theme week!

1 movie, 3 posters!

Naughty New Orleans  (Rebel Pictures, 1954)

What appears to be a "shocking documentary" about New Orleans is actually given a fictional story wrapped around the segments with the girls you could meet on Bourbon Street in the mid 1950's - a prudish young man doesn't know what his girlfriend does for a living - but then finds out when he goes into the club she works at.

I haven'r seen it - and at 87 minutes it might be a little long - but I'd still check it out given the chance. As for the posters - #3 is my favorite - for providing more of a historical record of which performers appear in the movie if nothing else - but all three posters are fun.

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Saturday Night at the Movies 2/21/15!

Who cares what picture we see?

Barbara Howard would - she's a good girl like that - so we will go with this old favorite tonight...


I really love this fourth entry in the series. I enjoy all of the first four - but the original and this one might be the top two...I don't know...ask me on successive days and you might hear different answers.

But this one is really well done. Director Joseph Zito knocks it out of the park, as does his cast and crew.
Jason's back at the lake, this time menacing a rented house full of partying teens and catching the neighbors - a single mom family next door - as potential collateral damage. Add in the brother of a previous victim hunting Jason and Crispin Glover's dance moves - and you have an evening's entertainment.

Mention must be made of the makeup effects from a returning Tom Savini - and the uncredited performance of an stuntman and actor not thrilled by the job - other than the paycheck - back in the day but much more willing to meet up with the movie's fans at various horror conventions these days...

The great Ted White! If you'd like to see him endorsing this blog,
please go HERE.

I have a couple of DVD editions of this movie, so one is always close at hand if you'd like to come check it out with me - even tonight!

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Celebrity Endorsement: Sid Haig!

Sid Haig has been around forever. He got started acting in the 60's - with movies like Spider Baby, and appearances on TV shows like Batman and Mission: Impossible.

He menaced James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever.

He was the villain on Saturday morning's Jason of Star Command in the 70's.

And he's still going strong!

He also knows good pop culture blogging when he sees it - and as you might expect if you know anything about him - he gets a little salty in his affection - so this clip is NSFW!

Thanks, Mr. Haig! Hey! Get out of there, Bill Moseley!

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Maniacal Movie Poster Monday #203!

Running short of time - we're going sans words this time!

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Saturday Night at the Movies 2/14/15!

Who cares what picture we see?

Bill Erwin would have, in his lovably crusty way - so on this most romantic of days we'll go with this one...

Regardless of being created by greeting card manufacturers - the idea of a day to celebrate romance is a nice one. Here's a wonderful fantasy film from 1980 with Christopher Reeve playing a guy so enamored of a portrait of an actress (Jane Seymour) from decades before that he wills himself back in time to be with her.

Written by Richard Matheson - based on his novel Bid Time Return - and directed by Jeannot Szwarc (Supergirl, Jaws 2) - this turned out to be a major bomb on its initial release (except in China of all places, where it went through the roof) - but it is a touching and sweet movie quite unlike any other you've seen. It's well shot and has a terrific score from the always incredible John Barry - and we could be checking it out on the Blu-Ray in the video vault anytime - even tonight. I can't promise I won't shed a tear or two, though...

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

January 2015 Watchlist!

Here's everything I watched in the month of January: (this does not include a lot that was watched with my wondrous wife Suze - just my own personal watchlist - although Suze did watch some of this with me.)

The Alchemist  (VHS)

Sea Hunt: "Flooded Mine"  (DVD)

'Gator Bait  (DVD)

Punisher:War Zone  (Blu-Ray)

The Revenge of Frankenstein  (DVD)

Gotham: "Viper"  (DVR - recorded from Fox)

Iron Sky  (Blu-Ray)

Sons of Anarchy: "Capybara"  (Streaming - Netflix)

The Strangers  (DVD)

Dark Shadows  Episode 49  (DVD)

Dark Shadows  Episode 50  (DVD)

Crazy Mama  (DVD)

Sea Hunt:  "Rapture of the Deep"  (DVD)

Creep  (DVD)

The Director's Chair: John Carpenter  (DVR - recorded from El Rey)

Crime Wave  (1954)  (DVD)

Decoy  (DVD)

Dark Shadows  Episode 51  (DVD)

Dark Shadows Episode 52  (DVD)

Dark Shadows Episode 53  (DVD)

Warrior of the Lost World  (DVD)

Sea Hunt: "Mark of the Octopus"  (DVD)

Jonah Hex  (Blu-Ray)

The Flash: "Things You Can't Outrun"

Born to Be Sold  (DVD)

Sons of Anarchy: "The Revelator"

Germ Z  (DVD)

Batman  Chapter One  (1943 serial)  (DVD)

Timecop: The Berlin Decision  (DVD)

Vile  (Streaming - Netflix)

Sea Hunt: "The Sea Sled"

Croczilla  (Streaming - Netflix)

Batman  Chapter Two  (1943 serial)  (DVD)

ATM  (Streaming - Netflix)

Calendar Girl  (1947)  (DVD)

The Simpsons: "Brick Like Me"  (DVR - Recorded from Fox)

Gotham: "Spirit of the Goat"  (DVR - Recorded from Fox)

Terrorvision  (Blu-Ray)

Burn Notice: "Company Man"  (Streaming - Netflix)

Bad Dreams  (Blu-Ray)

Sea Hunt: "Female of the Species"  (DVD)

Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla  (DVD)

The Simpsons: "Pay Pal"  (DVR - Recorded from Fox)

The Flash: "Going Rogue"  (DVR - Recorded from Fox)

Survival Quest  (DVD)

Burn Notice: "Bloodlines"  (Streaming - Netflix)

The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith  (DVR - Recorded from TCM)

Batman  Chapter Three  (1943 serial)  (DVD)

The Wackiest Wagon Train in the West  (DVD)

Sea Hunt: "Mr. Guinea Pig"  (DVD)

Warkill  (VHS)

The Simpsons: "The Yellow Badge of Cowardge"  (DVR - Recorded from Fox)

Gotham: "Penguin's Umbrella"  (DVR - Recorded from Fox)

Alphabet City  (DVR - Recorded from TCM)

Until next post - you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Maniacal Movie Poster Monday #202!

Girls of the Underworld  (aka Mad Youth, 1940) plus Probation  (Chesterfield Motion Picture Company, 1932)

Ah, the cautionary tales of the 30's and 40's - and boy they knew how to sell them on the poster, eh? I haven't seen either - but I would love to - and maybe I have them in some bargain box set in the video vault - who knows?

From Hell It Came  (Allied Artists, 1957)

Starlog writer Ed Naha said about this one: "And to hell it can go!" It is an awesomely silly 50's creature feature - but I'm not nearly so willing to dismiss it as was Mr. Naha. An executed South Seas prince comes back as a walking tree monster with a meanie face on the trunk. You know that's cinema gold, right?

I featured the Nabonga monster in an earlier post about silly movie monsters - if you want to check it out please go HERE.

Le Body Shop  (???, ???)

I couldn't find out anything about this movie online. I know it exists because I remember it airing on Showtime when I was a pre-teen - so I'm going to say it was a French import - most likely made in the early to mid 70's. I wonder why it's so hard to track down?

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Saturday Night at the Movies 2/7/15!

Who cares what picture we see?

Paul Benedict may or may not - but regardless we'll go with this one tonight...

One of my favorite Steve Martin movies - and maybe the top spot holder. A crazy comedy with Steve as brain surgeon Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr (easier to say than spell) - who falls in love with and marries Dolores (Kathleen Turner at the peak of her hotness) but finds out she's actually pretty evil. He then falls in love with a talking brain - voice of Sissy Spacek - which was the result of an experiment by mad scientist David Warner. Now he needs to find a body to house the brain in. Who could he find with a gorgeous appearance but who wouldn't particularly be missed by the world...hmm....

Martin and director Carl Reiner always worked well together - I also love their Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid - but this movie is just as good - hilarious and crazy. I don't think Warner's advertising department knew how to sell it - that trailer really isn't very good at communicating the absolute lunacy on display in nearly every frame of this movie - but then again, maybe that lunacy would be hard to encapsulate in short form in any attempt.

Regardless - after years of full frame DVD nonsense - Warner added the widescreen version to their Made on Demand Archive - and I asked them to whip me one up. Now we can be watching it anytime - even tonight - if you'll get that cat out of here and come on over!

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

TenList Presents: 10 Great Unexpected Cameos!

More than usual - I want to throw in a SPOILER ALERT here - some of the cameos mentioned are surprises in their movie - so if you haven't seen the movie...

1. )  Boris Karloff in Transylvania Twist

In Jim Wynorski's excellent 1990 horror spoof Steve Altman - searching a spooky old castle - opens a door and finds himself face to face with...Boris Karloff?!?! Yes, more than twenty years after Mr. Karloff's passing, footage from 1963's The Terror is used to allow Altman a brief conversation with one of the greatest horror stars of all time.

This isn't the actual scene, but it is a shot of Boris Karloff in The Terror.

2.)  John Carradine in Jack-O
Continuing the "cameo from the grave" theme - John Carradine turns up briefly in this 1995 horror flick from director Steve Latshaw - using some previously unused footage shot before Mr. Carradine passed away in 1988.

3.)  The five guest stars in The List of Adrian Messenger

It's a cool mystery flick with a gimmick. As leads George C. Scott and Dana Wynter snoop around, they meet up with five heavily made up Big Star cameo actors - all of whom are listed on the poster along with their characters in portrait. I was debating whether or not to even name the actors since even that is a slight spoiler - but the movie's poster goes whole hog for the spoiler - so there you go. The movie is highly recommended - both as a solid mystery movie and as a gimmick flick!

4.)  Franco Nero in Django Unchained

I loved Quentin Tarantino's Spaghetti Western pastiche - and thought the moment when his Django - Jamie Foxx - meets up with the original 1966 Django - Franco Nero - was a movie moment made in heaven. Their dialogue exchange is also just wonderful - but I'll leave that for you to check out in the movie.

5.)  Gene Barry and Ann Robinson in War of the Worlds (2005)

Although it came out during Tom Cruise's "crazy" period - when he was jumping on couches and attempting to make us believe something by marrying young actresses I used to hang out with - I still watched this one on home video - and thought it was a solid version of the H.G. Wells story. My very favorite moment comes at the end of the movie - when Cruise and his kids finally make it to his in-laws' house - and when they come out it's Gene Barry and Ann Robinson - the stars of the 1953 War of the Worlds! Fifty two years later - both actors are still kicking and hale and hearty enough to cameo - another sterling movie moment.

Ann and Gene in 1953...

...and Gene and Ann in 2005.

6.)  Jack Carter in Satan’s Princess

In 1990 I sit down with the new Bert I. Gordon flick - the creator of Attack of the Puppet People, Village of the Giants, and Empire of the Ants was back with a new movie years after I assumed he'd retired - (and he's still around and working on new film projects twenty-five years on!) The movie didn't involve anyone or anything growing or shrinking - this was a demon attacking people movie - and it sure got off to some kind of start with a prologue set in the 12th century - with a monk who sets the movie's events in motion with a prophesy in the form of a painting he has just finished. And who plays the monk? None other than borscht belt comedian Jack Carter - a very familiar face from talk shows and sitcoms when I was a kid. So why was he cast as an Italian speaking monk in the beginning of this movie? No idea - but I sure did love it!

Jack Carter, 12th century monk?

7.)  Larry Hagman in Superman

As a part of Lex Luthor's (Gene Hackman) plot to sink California into the sea, Miss Teschmacher (Valerie Perrine) pretends to be injured from a car crash - stopping a military convoy on the road long enough to allow Otis (Ned Beatty) to alter the trajectory of the missiles they carry. While the voluptuous lady lays on the roadway in her fetching red dress, the military convoy commander walks up and turns out to be Larry Hagman of all people! He has some funny bits and dialogue, then disappears from the movie. I'd love to know why and how he was chosen for that role.

8.)  Kevin McCarthy in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Philip Kaufman's remake is actually very good and well worth watching. Particularly cool is the scene where the star of the original movie comes tearing in - still screaming about the alien invasion just as he did at the end of the 1956 version....

"They're here!" 1956

"They're here!" 1978

9.)  Judi Dench in Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides

I've only seen one Pirates movie, and for me that was all the Jack Sparrow I needed. But I love that they got Dame Judi to pop round for a quick cameo in one of the sequels.

10.)  Bob Hope in Spies Like Us

This comedy plays out like an 80's Hope/Crosby Road movie in a lot of ways, so it's awesome when the then-surviving member of that duo shows up for a fleeting moment...

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Maniacal Movie Poster Monday #201!

Soul Patrol  (Cinematic Releasing Corporation, 1981)

This one is a little complicated. The movie was made in 1976 in South Africa as Death of a Snowman. It was released here by Cinematic Releasing Corporation in 1978 as Black Trash (Stay classy, Cinematic!) Then it got more play three years later under this title. I've never seen it, but apparently it's a pretty good Blaxploitation cop flick with a white cop teaming up with a black reporter to investigate vigilante killings. I'd like to see it - I don't care which title - although I'd like it to be a complete version please and thank you.

The Lodger  (20th Century Fox, 1944)

This remake of a silent movie casts the large and imposing Laird Cregar as the title character - who may or may not be Jack the Ripper. It was a great success, and 20 Century Fox planned to capitalize on it with a series of movies casting Cregar in similar roles. The first of these was Hangover Square, which also cast George Sanders. Sadly, Cregar died from the strain of a medically unsupervised crash diet he'd put himself on in the hopes of escaping his Big Bad Man casting - he wanted to be a romantic leading man - and his death from heart attack came just after Hangover Square was completed, and it was released after his death.

Daddy-'O'  (American International Pictures, 1958)

This 50's flick combining drag racing and band drama is not one I've managed to see - but it does hold an interesting place in film history - it's the first movie scored by John Willams - you know - Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Superman? That guy? So I'd really like to check this one out!

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!