Comedy

Review of Phantom of the Paradise

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Phantom of the Paradise Theatrical Poster

Phantom of the Paradise Theatrical Poster

 

 

 

 

 

Rating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

Review

Before there was Rocky Horror, there was Phantom of the Paradise.

This rock opera-styled comedy written and directed by Brian dePalma is a witty and very campy blending of Faust and The Phantom of the Opera. The story is centered on songwriter and composer Winslow Leach (played more or less badly by William Finley), who has his music stolen and adulterated by the somewhat Satanic, wildly successful record producer Swan (played impishly and yet with a hint of sinister by Paul Williams).  When Leach confronts Swan, Swan has him beaten and imprisoned on trumped-up drug charges.

Leach manages a prison break, breaks into Swan’s record-press facility and gets disfigured by the hot presses while trying to sabotage the system. Later, he breaks into the rock palace owned by Swan and finds himself a nice phantom costume to wear as he begins a campaign to terrorize everyone and sabotage the opening of Swan’s new rock theatre. As with Phantom of the Opera, there’s a love interest and as with Faust, we know early on that Swan is something of a devil, who has Leach sign a “contract” in exchange for using his music.

 

Reason to Watch

There are some great lines in this movie, along with frequent and funny allusions to other films. The send-up of the famous shower scene from Psycho is one of the film’s funniest moments, as are the scenes featuring the effeminate-yet-butch lead singer Beef (played hilariously by Gerritt Graham). Some of the music isn’t bad, either, which isn’t surprising. Paul Williams created the score and wrote the songs for the film at the height of his career.

Context

Phantom of the Paradise came out at the height of the early 70s “Weird=Good” era. It bombed at the box office initially, but quickly became a cult favorite, especially in Canada, where it ran for a year.

If your idea of a good rock musical-movie is one that takes its music very seriously, then this flick will probably piss you off a bit. However, if you like music and films that make fun of themselves and the culture in which they were made, you’ll have a lot of fun.

Most Memorable Quote(s)
  • Beef: I know drug -real from real-real.
  • Beef: The karma in here is so thick you need an aqualung to breathe.
  • Beef: Swan, this was scored for a chick. I’m not doing it in drag.

 

What You Need to Get Through This Movie

There’s something for everybody here: horror, comedy, rock music and romance. If you can’t find something to like in this movie, then a movie may not be able to help you, anyway. This is supposed to be fun, it’s supposed to be silly and it’s supposed to be weird. It succeeds beautifully.

Grab some throwback snacks and  just enjoy the movie for what it is. Like all cult classics, it requires you to loosen up a bit, so do some stretching beforehand.

Trivia

Originally, Paul Williams was supposed to play the Phantom and Gerrit Graham was supposed to play Swan. Everyone switched roles just a couple of weeks before shooting started. Paul Williams felt he wasn’t quite scary enough. The diminutive songwriter who brought us “Just An Old-Fashioned Love Song” may have been right. But he’s nicely sleazy as Swan.

The actors who play the three bands in the film (The Juicy Fruits, The Beach Bums and The Undead) all did their own choreography, then just showed up to shoot.

Educational Content
  • If someone asks you to sign a contract in blood, you really need to have a lawyer look at it first.
  • Never face plant on a record press.
Justification for Rating

The movie does everything it sets out to do. Cheesy, yes, but not unsuccessful.

Clip

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2n5qVJEg3qA

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Scifi

Review of Starcrash

Scifi Comments Off on Review of Starcrash

Starcrash film posterRating: ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

Review

Starcrash seems to be something written by an immature Star Wars fanboy with 1,200 bucks and a couple of cameras. It somehow manages to have some measly starpower in a movie that is so wrought with poor special effects, low production values, and a convoluted plot born from the orifices of Alien: Ressurection. Starcrash is a terribly ill-conceived film, so it’s no wonder it has established a steady cult following decades after its release. A group of starfighters are sent out to destroy the evil Count Zarth Arn and stop whatever bullshit he’s up to. They fail miserably, but a survivor manages to meet up with a team of silly rogue-types and they ressurect the mission to take down the Count for good.

The plot is thin as 1% milk, and I can’t even say it has a huge charming appeal. But it is terrible, and for cult film fans, that could be the only requirement. Starcrash is the poor man’s Star Wars, 2 years after Star Wars became a thing. there were many of them around that time, Starcrash is the one most teetering between total hilarity and sheer awfulness.

Reason to Watch

Caroline Munro may not be a household name, but who cares. Her skimpy unproductive space fighting suit the “space-kini” and her overall badassery is enough to watch this thing three times over.

Context

Starcrash is an awful awful movie but it does sort of sum up the entirety of late 70’s action science-fiction flicks without all the overt presumptions following Star Wars.

Most Memorable Quote(s)
  • Zarth Arn: By sunset I’ll be the new emperor. And I’ll be the master of the whole universe! 
  • L: Circuits don’t fail me now! 
  • Emperor of the Galaxy: For the space of three minutes, every molecule on this planet will be immobilized. But after the third minute, the green ray loses it’s power. Time will flow once more and everything will explode. 
What You Need to Get Through This Movie

An appreciation for painful ear-splitting dialogue

Trivia

The producers and studio executives told director Luigi Cozzi to make the film as much like Star Wars as physically possible without breaking legalities

There is known stateside DVD release of Starcrash.

Producers were extremely hesitant to show Starcrash to music composer John Barry fearing he will abandon the project

All of Christopher Plummer’s shots for the Emperor were done in a single day

Educational Content
  • Robots dissolve as they die
  • The original attention for Caroline Munro was to have her in the scantily clad space-kini for the entirety of the film, but producers feared not getting a pass in American markets
Justification for Rating

Sometimes, a beautiful model in space underwear isn’t enough to salvage a terrible movie

Clip

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tESwX3doaI

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Comedy

Review of UHF

Comedy Comments Off on Review of UHF

UHFRating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

Review

There aren’t many things that have involved both Weird Al Yankovic and David Bowie. One known more for his quickly dated parody songs, the other as the experimental pop mastermind, these two men have made a calculated risk with UHF and over 20 years later, I’m still not sure if it did much of anything. UHF has both musicians playing “sort of” archetypes as themselves as George and Bob. George earns, through a series of events, the ability to run a quickly declining television station. he hires his friend Bob to help, and through a host of unrealistic and obnoxiously prototypical characters, we have chaos and “humour.” UHF isn’t all that funny, but it does show you that when a musician acts, it more often than not fails miserably. Sting tried it, Bob Dylan tried it, just doesn’t work unless your black.

Reason to Watch

If you are a fan of Weird Al or David Bowie, you may get a kick out of watching them pretend their not themselves by basically acting how they would act as musicians in the spotlight. Also, the Rambo scene.

Context

UHF is silly and harmless, and instead of hurting the career’s of those involved, it essentially kept everything completely and utterly neutral. Yay for film moving forward.

Most Memorable Quote(s)
  • George Newman: Lesbian Nazi Hookers Abducted by UFOs and Forced Into Weight Loss Programs… all next week on Town Talk. 
  • Stanley Spadowski: I’m thinkin’ of something orange. Something orange. Give up? It’s an orange. 
    Stanley Spadowski: Ok, now I’m thinkin’ of something blue. Something bluuuuuue. 
  • Bob: I don’t know about this, George. We don’t know the first thing about what goes on in a television station. 
    George Newman: Don’t worry, Bob. It’s just like working in a fish-market. Except you don’t have to clean and gut fish all day. 
What You Need to Get Through This Movie

You may need Keanu Reeves from Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey to help out. I believe he’s a fan of both Weird Al, David Bowie, and arbitrary stupidity.

Trivia

After extremely positive feedback from test screenings, Orion Pictures concluded that this film was their sure-fire summer blockbuster. Unfortunately, the film was released during the summer of 1989 against huge films like Lethal Weapon 2Batman and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  It did turn a minor profit but wasn’t enough to save Orion. Following a string of box-office flops, Orion went bankrupt in the early 1990s.

The first cut of UHF was over 2 and a half hours, and where Weird Al still insists on not releasing the director’s cut, saying there was a reaosn those scenes did not make the film

During film, Weird Al had moles on his face removed. Some scenes they are visible, and others they are not

Educational Content

Even as an actor in a comedy film, Weird Al barely qualifies as funny

Justification for Rating

UHF is reminiscent along the lines of Wayne’s World, but ends up being only partly funny, because the whole time you are never attached to a character or itnerested in the paperthin spinning wheels recycled scenarios plot. Clever ideas tossed and turned around…

Clip

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8n1hKQULa9Y

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Drama

Review of Santa Sangre

Drama Comments Off on Review of Santa Sangre

Santa SangreRating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Review

I don’t think Santa Sangre was meant to be as weird as it is. Some movies try so hard to be odd, and it often comes across as phony or self-parody. Santa Sangre is the most non-intentionally weird move ever devised. It has nothing to do with Santa Claus (at least I don’t think) and more to do with talking fish and circuses. Santa Sangre utilized the flash-forward before Lost made it cool, and takes advantage of Down Syndrome illness more than any other film. The film is also intensely violent and absurd beyond any sort of literal understanding. Santa Sangre may be a huge metaophor for child abuse, but it also has enough circus tricks to fit in a Cirque De Soleil script. You can’t come to terms with the film’s oddities any more than you can understand why your mom insists on Santa Claus being real even in your twenties.

Reason to Watch

Jesus makes a cameo appearance. The real Jesus, so that is pretty cool or whatever.

Context

italy and Mexico don’t usually deprive such entertainment, more known for their stuffiness and their illegal immigrants respectively, but for one reason or another, Santa Sangre just sort of works, even if it isn’t really saying anything at all about anything we can understand.

Most Memorable Quote(s)
  • Concha: Without me you are nothing. No one sees you and no one notices you. Just like your stupid hero.
  • Concha: It’s always roosters or swans! You never see anything else in your ridiculous hallucinations. 
What You Need to Get Through This Movie

Let’s just be honest here and nothing except shrooms and an Amazon frog can really make you come to sense and preparation for this thing.

Trivia
  • As a tribute to Mexican horror filmsSanta Sangre includes a scene with masked wrestlers and a “superwoman” named La Santa.
  • The line spoken during the death of the elephant (The Elephant is Dying) is used as the opening line of “What’s up with You” – a song by Eddie Murphy and Michael Jackson, of all combinations
Educational Content

You cannot atone for your sins by asking politely and sacrificing an animal

When a character hallucinates, even the smallest trivial problem is insurmountable

Justification for Rating

If senselessness is directly proportional to quality, a 7 will do perfectly here.

Clip

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

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Action

Review of Fight Club

Action, Comedy, Drama Comments Off on Review of Fight Club
Fight Club Movie PosterRating: ★★★★★★★★★☆
Review

In this extremely dark and violent comic drama, the “Narrator” a depressed, angst ridden young man is dissatisfied with the world around him. He hates his work and has attempted to mask his emptiness by assembling his “perfect” apartment. In order to relieve his insomnia he’s taken to visiting support groups for patients with terminal diseases. His path changes radically when, on a business flight, he meets Tyler Durden, a charming soap salesman. Tyler doesn’t value a world driven by consumerism and he believes that men can learn through pain, misfortune and chaos. Tyler cheerfully challenges his new friend to a fight. The Narrator finds that bare-knuckle fighting makes him feel alive and soon the two become friends and roommates, meeting to fight once a week. As more men join in, the “fight club” becomes a sinister underground movement that spreads across the country, even though it’s meant to be a closely guarded secret among the participants. As the Narrator and Tyler continue to bond, a strange situation becomes further complicated when Tyler becomes involved with Marla, whom the Narrator became infatuated with when they were both gate-crashing the support-group circuit. As the “fight club” movement progressively darkens where will it all end?

Lots of violence, plenty of shocks, plot twists and a great ending what more could you want?

Reason to Watch

Any film that has a leading British film critic describing it as “an inadmissible assault on personal decency” has got to go straight onto the “must watch” list I reckon. Oh and Brad Pitt with his shirt off, if thats the sort of thing that floats your boat.

Context

Some people apparently saw the film as dangerous and a promotion Nazism, which seems rather overly-dramatic and suggests that these people need to get out more.

Most Memorable Quotes

“The things you own end up owning you.”

“The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club….”

“With a long enough timeline, the probability of survival is zero.”

What You Need To Get Through This Movie

Just in case the urge to re-enact fight scenes takes hold ensure that you only invite round your weediest and most feeble of friends. Smelling salts, first aid kit and route to nearest Emergency Room should all be kept close at hand. Plenty of booze should be made available for Dutch courage before and to mask the pain after the fighting.

Trivia

The home-made recipe for Napalm provided by Tyler was incorrect, for obvious safety reasons. Some sources state that the recipe was accurate in the book upon which the film was based but, in fact, that too was false (at the insistence of the books publishers). If I had known this sooner I would not have wasted a great deal of tasty orange juice in attempting a reenactment of scenes from Apocalypse Now last summer.

Educational Content
  1. You can make soap from the fat of humans.
  2. Misuse of steroids can land you with a nasty pair of breasts.
  3. Messing around with lye is a bad idea, that shit burns!
  4. Exercise helps you get healthy, natural sleep.
  5. Ikea do some nice furniture.
Justification for Rating

The film is challenging and controversial but is hugely watchable, quotable and enjoyable.

Clip

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