Monday, March 31, 2014

College (1927): About A Girl


The review is in conjunction with The Big League Blogathon: A Celebration of Baseball in Film, which is being hosted by Forgotten Films. After you check out this review, I encourage you to keep up with the other contributions throughout the blogathon over at Forgotten Films.

Buster Keaton Baseball 1

It’s no secret that Buster Keaton was an avid baseball fan, so much so that Keaton was known to take a ‘baseball break’ at a moments notice if there was a stall in a film’s production. Considering his love of baseball as well as his physical abilities as an entertainer, it’s surprising that Keaton never made a film strictly about the sport he loved so dearly – though baseball has shown up in a small handful of his movies.

college-1927-movie-posterIn 1928’s The Cameraman, there’s a scene where Keaton pantomimes a handful of signature baseball movements in Yankees Stadium. Much later in his career, 1935 to be exact, Keaton made a 19 minute short film titled One Run Elmer, where he plays a gas station owner who tries to win over a girl by beating his rival in a game of baseball. The only other Buster Keaton film that features baseball in some capacity came a year before The Cameraman, 1927’s College.

Directed by James W. Horne and Buster Keaton, College is about a young man named Ronald (Keaton), who during his high school graduation is recognized as being the “most brilliant scholar” in his graduating class. While accepting his award, Ronald gives a speech titled “The Curse of the Athlete,” which chastises athletics for being drastically inferior to a good education. The speech is as humorous as it is purposefully ignorant, with Ronald asking uninformed questions such as “What have Ty Ruth and Babe Dempsey done for science?!,” all the while his suit is noticeably shrinking after earlier being caught in a rainstorm and then spending time next to a heater.

college-1927-buster-keaton 2

Ronald’s speech is clearly the catalyst for the film’s plot, in that he seems to be using it as a platform to belittle athletes while making himself look better in front of the girl he likes, Mary (Anne Cornwall). However, Ronald’s plan backfires, as his speech comes off as arrogant and misinformed, something of which causes Mary to declare that she would rather spend her time with an athlete over a “weak-knee’d, teachers’ pet.” Ouch.

Devastated by her reaction, Ronald only sees one way of winning back Mary’s heart, and that’s by following her to college and trying out for some of the school’s sports teams. Specifically, the track and field team and, of course, the baseball team. Unsurprisingly, however, Ronald is not all too successful in his endeavors, leading to a number of scenes that unfortunately do not quite live up to Keaton’s better work. Regardless, it’s still enjoyable watching Ronald position himself to play third base while wearing full catcher’s gear or seeing him throw a javelin with all of his might, only for it to travel no more than 5 feet.


Some of the stronger comedic moments come from Ronald working as a soda jerk, wherein he attempts to display some fancy bartending flair with disastrously messy results. One of the most impressive stunts in College comes later on when Ronald, who is now working as a waiter, does a backwards somersault while holding a cup of coffee upright the entire way. Unfortunately, as impressive as this moment is, it comes at the expense of some unfavorable blackface, which Ronald uses to hide his identity from Mary who is dining at the same restaurant.

While I don’t find College to be up to par with Keaton’s best movies, it’s still a fairly delightful watch. Furthermore, it’s always enjoyable watching Buster Keaton work. Keaton’s cat-like curiosity and deadpan demeanor is a huge part of what makes him such a incredible screen presence, and it’s all on full-display here in College. Additionally, I get a real kick out of Keaton playing a nerdy character without any athletic ability when, in all actuality, he’s about as athletic a man as it gets.

Buster Keaton Baseball

College is certainly questionable as an entry into baseball film history; however, Buster Keaton’s love for the sport makes covering such a film for such a blogathon seem completely reasonable. You can check out the film, which runs just a hair over an hour, via the YouTube video below, and again, I encourage you to check out the other entries in The Big Leagues Blogathon.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Salute Your Shorts: Sicko (2013)

Sicko 2013 short film

After a ritualistic sex act, a disturbed man (Tom Grimley) stalks a prostitute (Imogen Stubbs) through a series of dark and empty alleyways with intentions far more sinister than a $10 handjob.

Written, directed and photographed by Vincent Gallagher and Luke Adey, Sicko is, as the title would allude to, sick.This 5 minute short film opens with a scene that features a clearly demented man masturbating in a run down shed. Immediately after “finishing,” the man proceeds to wipe his reward into his hair because, well, where else are you supposed to put the stuff?

The opening alone should give you an idea of what the filmmakers were aiming for, which is an edgy, mean-spirited and violent short film. With that said, however, Sicko also conveys an interesting cerebral vibe, which is even more apparent post beat-off scene. Furthermore, there is some impressive filmmaking on display, so if you feel like the subject matter is tolerable to your tastes, then I suggest giving Sicko a watch below.

Salute Your Shorts 3

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Demon (2013): Demon Doodie


After being sent to investigate a string of grisly murders, FBI Special Agent Nicole Diaz (Jasmine Waltz) is forced to team up with local police and a pair of shady scientists to hunt down a government created monster with a thirst for blood.

Written by Bernie Felix Jr. and directed by Rob Walker, Demon reeks of ineptitude from moment one, and never does the stench let up. In fact, it gets stronger as the 77 minute runtime sloooooowly ticks by. Now, I have an uncommonly high tolerance for bad movies – maybe even more so than most fans of B-Movies, and it’s rare that a film can test my limits, but Demon does so in a way that is almost unfathomable. Demon pushed my boundaries in a fashion that had me completely checked out by the final act, and nothing makes reviewing a film more difficult than not being able to pay attention to anything other than the runtime.

Despite my crippled attention span, I was able to observe a common through line in Demon, which is Agent Diaz constantly having to prove to men that she is equal to them, something that leads to a number of ridiculously uninspired moments. When she is first introduced, Agent Diaz is seen unconvincingly hitting a punching bag in a gym. Naturally there’s a group of guys watching her every move, with one of the men saying that there’s no way she can be that tough going on and on about how he could take her out in a heartbeat (because THAT’S manly). In any event, soon enough this sexist sucker attempts to challenge Agent Diaz, only to find himself on his ass, something that I would’ve never seen coming. *cough* sarcasm *cough*

Continuing this motif, there are also a number of times where Agent Diaz is given a hard time by the local yokel police officers for being a female FBI Agent. Like, is it really that difficult to believe that an attractive woman can be a Federal Agent in charge of a huge murder investigation? Maybe it was the white tank top she was wearing. Because a white tank top screams “I’M A PROFESSIONAL! TAKE ME SERIOUSLY!” Maybe she should’ve gone with the tube top instead. With that said, if you’re going to make a statement on equality, hiring a hot lead actress and sticking her Federal Agent character in a tank top seems to defeat the purpose of making a statement on equality.

On a technical level, Demon is a horrifically crafted film filled with poor camera work and sound so terrible that there are moments where you won’t even be able to hear what the characters are saying. Not that any of that matters. Outside of Waltz, the performances are amateurish at best, and absolutely none of the characters are believable in any way whatsoever. At best, Demon might be enjoyable with a few drunken friends, but I cannot imagine the fun would last more than 20 minutes before everyone would get bored and opt to watch a Don Dohler film instead. For you, dear reader, I suggest the same.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Body Bags (1993): Tag ‘em and Bag ‘em

body bags 1993

Originally planned as an anthology television series for Showtime, 1993’s Body Bags features three unconnected short horror stories, each of which are introduced by none other than John Carpenter. Carpenter plays The Coroner, a Crypt Keeper influenced morgue worker who gets his kicks out of sharing the gruesomest stories of horror from the numerous cadavers that litter his pristine morgue. Of the three stories, Carpenter directed two – The Gas Station and Hair – while Tobe Hooper took the reigns on the film’s third and final segment, The Eye.

The Gas Station

Somewhere near Haddonfield, IL, a female gas station attendant, Anne (Alex Datcher), is stalked by a madman looking to make her first night on the job her final one.

The Gas Station is a straight-forward slasher film set in a remote location, and it’s the location that works as the most compelling aspect of this opening segment. I think anyone who has ever been to a gas station late at night knows how unsafe they feel, and Carpenter thoughtfully exploits that feeling in a way that is simple yet effective. Anne spends much of the segment inside of a small kiosk located next to the main gas station. While there is a slight feeling of safety and protection that comes with being behind a locked door, you know that she is never completely safe if someone really wants to get to her.

body bags 1993 the gas station

Throughout her first night on the job Anne deals with various customers, many of whom are played by a slew of familiar faces (something that carries on throughout the entire film). This includes David Naughton, George “Buck” Flower, Peter Jason, Robert Carradine, Wes Craven (who is thoroughly entertaining as an oddball), and even Sam Raimi, who shows up in an ‘Employee of the Month’ photo. These cameos might take away from the overall effectiveness of The Gas Station as a piece of horror, but they certainly add a level of amusement to the segment as well as the project as a whole.


Richard (Stacy Keach) is struggling with the fact that he is losing his hair and will do anything he can to reverse the process and regain his youth.

Much of Hair is relegated to Richard trying a number of techniques to give the illusion that he isn’t balding, which includes an ill-fitting toupĂ©e, a comb over and a spray-on hair type of product. After giving up all hope, Richard comes across a TV ad for a company similar to the Hair Club for Men. As a last ditch effort, Richard decides to give this company a try, and the results are quite impressive. In fact, within one night, Richard has a full head of hair so long and luscious, that everyone suddenly becomes completely enamored with Richard in a way they never have before – and Richard eats up every second of it. However, as you would expect, this amazing transformation is too good to be true, and soon Richard learns that his newfound happiness comes at a hefty price.

body bags 1993 hair

Hair is certainly the more comedic segment of Body Bags, but there is also an underlying message about the insecurity that comes with being a middle-age man trying to deal with the effects of old age. Richard’s reaction to his hair loss triggers a midlife crisis, something that many men his age go through when they begin to lose their hair and gain weight. Despite being a seemingly successful man with a beautiful wife (played by Sheena Easton), Richard feels severely insecure at the prospect of losing his youth. This is likely a result of the standards placed upon him (and men and especially women in general) by the marketing media that sends a message that your dick needs to be bigger and harder, you need a full head of hair, you must have a six-pack, and you have to own a nice car – and without these things you just aren't a real man, let alone a desirable one.

While that might be getting a little too heavy-handed for a segment in an anthology film, the value of Hair comes less from insecurity and more about how funny it is to see Stacy Keach with hair like Anthony Kiedis in the Under the Bridge video. It’s simply brilliant, especially with how perfectly Keach sells his newfound beauty throughout the segment. Truly joyful.

The Eye

After losing an eye in a horrific car accident, Brent (Mark Hamill) receives an eye transplant to save his budding baseball career, but soon finds himself suffering from numerous visions of violence.

body bags 1993 the eye

Directed by Tobe Hooper, The Eye is unquestionably the darkest of the three segments in Body Bags. The visions that Brent is subjected to are extremely violent, and it isn’t long before they shake up Brent’s mental stability. This results in Brent being unable to differentiate between the real world and the dark visions he is being constantly subjected to, which causes him to become violent towards his wife, Cathy (Twiggy).

While the story itself is pretty standard, The Eye is well executed and features a good performance by Hamill as man who's going completely insane. The dark tone of the segment brings a nice balance to the overall project, something of which is a necessity in any good anthology film.

In Closing…

body bags 1993 1

Body Bags is bookended with some shenanigans courtesy of our host, The Coroner. The Coroner’s segments are brief but entertaining, and it's nothing short of amusing watching Carpenter hamming it up, especially since this type of performance goes against his laid-back nature as a person.

Body Bags isn’t at the top of the food chain when it comes to anthology horror, but it’s certainly not at the bottom. The numerous cameos from various horror icons and self-referential nature of the project show that Carpenter and company were there to have fun, and it shows in the final product.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Ninjas, Wrestling and Jean-Claude, OH MY!

Hey kid! Yeah, you… you into podcasts? How about cult movies? Well, then I think I have something you might be interested in.

See this stuff? That’s right, it’s The Lair of the Unwanted. Good stuff. Gets you real high, if you know what I mean. Take a few of these and enjoy as Jason, Nolahn and myself yap on lovingly about the 1989 wrestling masterpiece, No Holds Barred

You can listen to our review of No Holds Barred by subscribing to The Lair of the Unwanted on iTunes OR you could get it over with and listen to the episode by clicking the link below.

no holds barred 1989

The Lair of the Unwanted Episode 76: No Holds Barred

Now, you can’t just take a dose of The Lair of the Unwanted without balancing it out with a few uppers. But don’t worry, I got you covered, kid. Why don’t you try out a few episodes of the Midnite Ride, in which Karl Brezdin from Fist of B-List and I cover 1987’s Sakura Killers and 1991’s Double Impact

You can check out each of these episodes by hitting the links below. Just make sure you don’t take them both at the same time.

double impact

Midnite Ride Episode 24: Double Impact


Midnite Ride Episode 25: Sakura Killers

Okay kid, these first few podcasts are on me. If you or any of your little friends need any more, you come see me, and I’ll hook you up with a good deal. Also, if anyone asks where you got these podcasts, it wasn’t me, okay kid? Now get outta here, why don’t ya!

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