Action

Review of Flash Gordon

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Flash Gordon DVD Cover

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

Review

Based on the 1930’s movie serials, Flash Gordon is a campy romp of Eighties science fiction excess, as our title hero squares off against the intergalactic tyrant, Ming the Merciless.

Reason to Watch

Queen provides a blood-pumping soundtrack that takes what would be just a shitty movie and turns it into a campfest of extravagant costumes, cheesy lines and implications of incest.

Context

Star Wars was making George Lucas into the plaid wearing financial titan that he is today, and every Hollywood producer on the block was searching for a space opera to compete. Flash Gordon was poorly received when it was first released but, as with all great cult movies, the geek community took a shine to it.

Most Memorable Quote(s)
  • I like to play with things a while before annihilation.
  • Flash, Flash, I love you, but we only have fourteen hours to save the Earth!
What You Need to Get Through This Movie

The bright colors, nonsensical dialogue and epic soundtrack call for a joint. But, as a responsible member of the community, I would never suggest that.

Trivia

Kurt Russell auditioned to play Flash Gordon.

Educational Content
  • Calling out football plays will flummox trained soldiers in melee fighting.
Justification for Rating

I can watch this over and over again, without fatigue. The costumes, the earnest acting that reminds one of a community production of “Macbeth,” the truly amazing soundtrack from Queen all add up to a solid 8 out of 10 on the cult movie meter.

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Review of Rocky Horror Picture Show

Musical Comments Off on Review of Rocky Horror Picture Show

rocky horror picture showRating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

Review

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is infamous for being so overtly stupid yet endearing. Very few films have elegantly balanced the bizarre and stupid with the enthralling nature of great film. So here we have a horror film, but not really. And here we have a musical, though only slightly. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a comedy driven by dark horror elements and musical odes to weirdness. It is hard to sum up the film (took me an hour to craft that exquisite previous sentence), but if any film needs to be watched to be even slightly understood, it is this one. Expect a little adventure of a recently engaded couple in a mansion surrounded by vampires and transvestites and vampire transvestites. Whoa.

Reason to Watch

I would say there is Susan Sarandon in her prime, but that’s like praising John Goodman’s looks in his prime, or Morgan Freeman  circa The Shawshank Redemption. Just didn’t do it for me. But on a serious note, homoerotic monsters sing acapella, so if that is more your style, you will be right in heaven.

Context

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is equitably the best horror musical ever, and in a time where any vampire in film or television is a huge pussy, it’s shocking to see the transvestite ones the most classic vampire-ish.

Most Memorable Quote(s)
  • Frank: [singing] I’m just a sweet transvestite, from Transsexual Transylvania. 
  • Magenta: I ask for nothing! 
    Frank: And you shall receive it, IN ABUNDANCE! 
What You Need to Get Through This Movie

You will probably need some proper ambiance- fake spiderwebs, a purple vampire cape, hanging skeletons, creepy flickering lights, and a case of Budweiser to make it all work together perfectly.

Trivia

The film runs in two key versions, one for U.S. release and the other U.K. The U.S. version originally omitted the singing part “Super Heroes” because studio executives thought it was too depressing

The movie was banned in South Africa, only after 250,000 viewers already saw it in the region

Director Jim Sharman was originally offered a much larger budget if he hired popular actors at the time, but refused instead taking a smaller budget and using actors from the theater version

Educational Content
  • Musical’s aren’t always just stupid, sometimes their stupid and awesome
  • Don’t get married and drive off somewhere or else you may end up singing with erotically-infused tenors
Justification for Rating

The film is undoubtedly a little dated, but the charm and appeal of the Rocky Horror Picture Show is well intact. It doesn’t quite fit that ‘so bad it’s good” vibe typical of classic cult films, because the production values and singing is top notch- for better or worse.

Clip

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcmq-8rcEKg

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Horror

Review of Dawn of the Dead, 1978

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Rating: ★★★★★★★★★½

Review

George A. Romero’s epic sequel to his genre-defining Night of the Living Dead is arguably superior to its ground-breaking predecessor.

As a zombie plague engulfs the planet, four survivors – TV girl Fran, her helicopter pilot boyfriend Stephen and two soldiers Peter and Roger – take refuge in a sprawling shopping mall, sealing the doors and creating a zombie-free hideout. In time they find their lives dull and empty inside their consumers’ paradise until their peace is destroyed by a marauding biker gang. The ensuing battle against both the bikers and the undead provides more opportunity for some wonderful gore.

The film is wonderfully written and directed and is full of satire, sub-text, allegory and clever imagery. The characters are well developed and reasonably played and the dialogue is both believable and economic enough to ensure a well-paced film. This all means that you can watch, completely guilt-free, an array of wonderfully produced gory effects (god bless Tom Savini) – screwdrivers through the ear, a rotor-blade scalping, bullet induced head explosions, machete decapitations and a liberal sprinkling of gut-munching.

On a personal note, Romero is the “Daddy” of the zombie genre and all the subsequent fast moving zombie goons really need to be bitch-slapped with a copy of the DVD, preferably prior to removing from the player.

Reason to Watch

The film is simply one of the best horror films ever made. Can be watched simply to revel in the violence or gore (of which there certainly is plenty) or can be appreciated as multi-faceted piece of cinematic art.

Context

Made in 1978 a full ten years after the first in the series. The delay, in part, was due to Romeros desire not to become overly identified with the horror genre. The delay didn’t work out too well for old George as whilst the film was a huge critical and financial success it certainly had him positively hog-tied to the zombie genre.

Most Memorable Quotes

“They’re us, that’s all, when there’s no more room in hell.”

“Who the hell cares! Let’s go shopping!”

What You Need To Get Through This Movie

To some extent this depends on what you want to take from the movie and also which version you are watching. If you are planning to have a beer-soaked gore and violence fest then the remote may come in handy, especially if you are watching the rather-slower paced 140 minute extended version.

Trivia

Despite being a sequel this is the first Romero film in which the zombies were actually called zombies.

Simon Pegg, star and co-writer of Shaun of the Dead, is a huge fan of the film and the work of Romero generally and is hence staunchly against the seeming modern move towards faster moving zombies.

Educational Content
  1. Zombies move slowly!
  2. To kill a zombie their brain must be destroyed.
  3. Even well-lit malls can be really scary.
  4.  Surviving a zombie apocalypse is pretty tricky and we should all have our plans in place.
  5. Zombies may be slow and clumsy but you have to admire their tenacity.
Justification for Rating

It would have got 10 out of 10 but some of the acting could have been a little better.

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Comedy

Review of Withnail and I

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Withnail and I posterRating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Review

Withnail and I is sort of like “Of Mice and Men,” except less American countryside and more British slums. Also more cooperation and less “I carry you entirely,” between the two main protagonist. In Actuality, it’s nothing like  “Of Mice and Men,” but it does have two charming leads that fail miserably at everything they do, so in that regard, we can see the comparisons with a British humor slant. If you find yourself enemployed, struggling, British, or just intensely stupid, you may be able to relate to the adventures of the film. it’s a comical odyssey, except with more coffee houses and less mythical Medusa woman. The film is quite an adventure, and though we may be only slightly able to relate to the misfortunes of the two leads, we find the charm and humor memorable and engrossing none the less.

Reason to Watch

There are many allusions to classic Shakespearean text, so that is absolutely a reason to watch. Or…

Context

The film is essentially a character study of two struggling men, surrounded in a palette of dry humor and British flair. For those interested in that idea, Withnail and I is about as good as it gets.

Most Memorable Quote(s)
  • Withnail: Free to those that can afford it, very expensive to those that can’t. 
  • Withnail: We want the finest wines available to humanity. And we want them here, and we want them now! 
What You Need to Get Through This Movie

Money, because without it, you may find eerie illusions to your own life to these two failing individuals, and you may climb and dive off the nearest bridge.

Trivia
  • Richard E. grant played the over the top drunk, Withnail. grant is a well known non-drinker, rarely having gotten intoxicated.
  • It was this film that prompted the family of Jimi Hendrix to take back full control over the use of his songs. They had grown dismayed by the association of Hendrix with drug culture in general.
Educational Content

They call bars pubs in Britian

Cops are dicks even in the U.K.

Justification for Rating

Withnail and I doesn’t have much to say, but watching this train wreck of a set of lead characters in Withnail and “unnamed” is unadultered entertainment, if you’re successful and awesome. if not, you may be who Withnail and I is based on and I am sincerely sorry about that, as you read this in your local library because you can not afford Internet.

Clip

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5EmCKbWS6c

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Comedy

Review of Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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Monty Python and the Holy GrailRating: ★★★★★★★★★☆

Review

The legend of King Arthur gets the irreverent Python treatment. The film contains a seemingly endless stream of “quote worthy” one-liners, and slapstick set pieces. The Knights of the Round Table go off in search of the Holy Grail and the first port of call is a plague-ridden community, ringing with the cry of “bring out your dead”. Subsequently our brave knights encounter a wedding of convenience which is attacked by Arthur’s men while the groom continually attempts to burst into song. The Knights are nearly thwarted by the dreaded, tree-shaped “Knights Who Say Ni!” and then the feisty Black Knight, who brushes off the loss his arms and legs in combat and threatens to bite off his opponent’s legs. A French military officer taunts them with classics such as “I fart in your general direction”. Rabbits feature heavily, God knows why, ranging from the huge “Trojan” rabbit to the killer bunny that decapitates one of the knights. I really needn’t go on other than to say the film is basically a relentless barrage of the bizarre and has a somewhat surreal ending, but it is a Python movie so nothing should really surprise you.

The story is absurd in the extreme but for Python-lovers it is a work of genius. To others it probably just seems pretty silly.

Reason to Watch

Arthurs fight with the Black Knight alone makes the film worth watching.

Context

Made at a time when the popularity of Monty Python was at a peak on both sides of the Atlantic.

Most Memorable Quotes

“Come back here and I’ll bite your legs off!”

“Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries.”

What You Need To Get Through This Movie

It is essential to ensure that you do NOT watch with either someone who “just doesn’t get it” or, conversely, a “Python bore” who endlessly quotes or analyzes. Both categories will completely ruin your enjoyment of the film so it is best to keep a large blunt object handy to deal with offenders.

Trivia

In the scene where the mob is weighing the ‘witch’ there are two quick shots of the crowd just as she is being put on the scales. In the second of the shots, one of the men is ex-Beatle and co-producer George Harrison.

Educational Content
  1. Do not rely on Monty Python films for your knowledge of history.
  2. English humor can be really weird.
  3. If you really don’t “get it” just pretend you do, believe me it will be better for everyone.
  4. The French and English have never really got on too well.
  5. In order to maintain air-speed velocity, a swallow needs to beat its wings forty-three times every second.
  6. You never know when useless facts may come in handy.
Justification for Rating

The high rating is either due to;

Me believing that the film is an English comedic masterpiece

or

I really just don’t get it but don’t want people to think I am a dumbass.

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