Saturday, July 30, 2011

Saturday Night at the Movies! 7/30/11

Who cares what picture we see?

Well, when he comes to visit my nephew Logan does, and he decided we all need to see this movie, or see it again...

There was no doubt this movie was going to let some fans down - you can't have something on the back burner for so long without someone finding the final product less than their dreams of it. But I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and its many clever allusions to it being a movie made from a TV show. The filmmakers also did a spectacular job with the very widescreen and some new cinematic tricks to take this beyond the series's animation style.

This is another than be seen in the pristine clarity of Blu-Ray, and it is easily reached on the shelf...you know, in case you decide you want to come by and watch it...like say, tonight, or something...

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

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Stars and Stripes Forever!

Captain America: The First Avenger  (Paramount, 2011)

Before the Camera:

Chris Evans  (Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer)
Hugo Weaving  (The Wolfman '10)
Hayley Atwell  (Cassandra's Dream)
Sebastian Stan  (Hot Tub Time Machine)
Tommy Lee Jones  (Jackson County Jail)
Dominic Cooper  (From Hell)
Richard Armitage  (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey)
Toby Jones  (Infamous)
Neal McDonough  (Star Trek: First Contact)
Derek Luke  (Biker Boyz)
Kenneth Choi  (Behind Enemy Lines II: Axis of Evil
JJ Feild  (Blood: The Last Vampire)
Stanley Tucci  (Monkey Shines)
as Dr. Abraham Erskine
Samuel L. Jackson  (Amos & Andrew)        <--------I worked on that one!
as Nick Fury

Behind the Camera:

Directed by Joe Johnston

Produced by Victoria Alonso, Louis D'Esposito, Kevin Feige, Stan Lee and 10 other assorted co-producers, executive producers, associate producers, and one stereoscopic executive producer

Written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely

Based on the character created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

In December 1940, Captain America Comics #1 appeared on news stands, from the imprint of Timely comics. Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, this patriotic new comic book character arrived at a propitious moment - one year before the United States entered World War II. Across the next 10 years, Captain America and his secret identity of Steve Rogers proved to be a very popular character, even earning a fan club called The Sentinels of Liberty. The stories and art in these early comics were very simple, with little or no character development, just a few pages of fast smash and bash action. The magazine also made comics history when issue #3 featured the first printed comics work of one Stanley Lieber, a young writer so fully aware of his authorial destiny outside the comics field that he went with a pen name - Stan Lee - on his text story "Captain America Foils the Traitor's Revenge," and 70 (!) years later, still using that name as perhaps the most famous comic book writer of all time! The character of Captain America faded during the 1950's as superhero comics took a backseat to horror and monster stories. Then, in 1964, with Timely Comics now known as Marvel Comics, Stan Lee, now so firmly ensconced in comics writing that he is serving as the editor-in-chief of the whole Marvel line, has found great success with The Fantastic Four and The Amazing Spider-Man. Looking for more characters to spring upon the world. Lee decides to revive Captain America, and has a frozen Captain America found and thawed out in Avengers #4 (March 1964). Using Lee's standard formula of giving his characters real world-style problems and worries, this Steve Rogers is now a man out of time, thawed out in a world 20 years beyond what he knew, and stranding him in personal isolation even as the leader of the supergroup The Avengers. Cap quickly proved himself a very popular character all over again, and continues on in some form through the comics of today.

   Now comes the character's newest Big Screen Adventure (newest because there were some previous flicks with the character, as Monday's Maniacal Movie Posters post showed) Chris Evans, with a pretty uncanny CGI assist, plays Steve Rogers, an extremely scrawny self-described "kid from Brooklyn" who just wants to join the military so he can do his part in the new war effort.

Unfortunately, Rogers is the poster boy for 98 Pound Weakling of the Year, and has been classified 4F 5 times. Just as he's about to give up hope, he runs into Dr. Abraham Erskine (Tucci), a German scientist looking for the right person to become an experimental subject for his Super Soldier program. More than a frail frame to be bolstered by the experiment the wise German doctor is looking for the guy with the right stuff on the inside - the heroism and ability to lead that only the best men have. He finds that in Steve Rogers, much to the consternation of military attache Colonel Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) who doesn't see how the shrimpy Rogers will ever amount to much of a regular soldier, let alone a Super Soldier. Rogers has more of an effect on Peggy Carter (Atwell), Colonel Phillips' lone female recruit. But when Erskine injects Steve with the rather creepy blue formula (which should look familiar to those who saw 2008's The Incredible Hulk *cough-Abomination-cough* and bathes him in "vita-rays" Steve finds instant results that leave Charles Atlas and Tony Little in the dust. Moments later, the vita-ray chamber opens, and out comes the new and improved Steve Rogers 2.0:

Unfortunately the military can think of little to do with him and consigns the newly minted "Captain America" to a war bonds drive and USO show. Outfitted in blue tights that both honor and poke fun at the comics' original version of his costume, Steve is aghast at this turn of events but does his duty honorably even while hoping to see action out on the front.

Even as he performs, however, an evil force is rising - a splinter Nazi group called Hydra headed by one Johann Schmidt, a madman searching for an ultimate power source - a kind of cosmic cube - that he says holds the power of the gods. He might well be right, since the first time we saw this cube it was earlier this summer in Odin's mancave (godcave?) in Asgard in Thor. Schmidt also knows Dr. Erskine, a fact that may have had an effect on Schmidt's countenance -why do they call him The Red Skull back in Berlin? -  and which will definitely cause Steve Rogers problems down the line.

When Johann Schmidt asks you "one lump or two?" you can
be sure he means it...

Finally, after an unathorized rescue behind enemy lines nets the allies a ready-made commando squad (actually the "Howling Commandos" of the comics, but not namechecked here) and scores Captain America the respect of Colonel Phillips, he is allowed to fulfill his destiny. With a little help from Howard Stark (father of Tony "Iron Man" Stark), Steve is suited up to truly become the Star Spangled Avenger - and look out Axis, here he comes!
C'mon, boys, these Nazis won't kill themselves...
 So far, Marvel has been knocking these flicks out of the park this summer! And strangely, instead of superhero fatigue, the three releases have actually increased in quality each time! Thor was good, X-Men: First Class was very good, and Captain America: The First Avenger is pretty much great. Right from the get-go, this one mostly gets everything right. Unlike almost every other Captain America film project, this one gives us the comic book origin, and unlike most of the others again, stays smack in the 1940's for the bulk of the movie. This gives the finished film a simple and honest earnestness that walks right up to the corny line, but never steps over. The casting is perfect, starting out of the gate with Chris Evans. Although he'd already made a Marvel mark playing Johnny "The Human Torch" Storm in the two recent Fantastic Four movies, Evans jumps into this role with both feet, and proves perfect for the role. even moreso than the devil-may-care Torch. His Steve Rogers is spunky and determined as the little guy; later he becomes more contemplative when he's bulked up. As Captain America (the warrior, not the show guy) he is big but graceful; coiled energy swinging that shield every which way and letting fly for perfect hits and ricochets as he mows down the baddies with fists and weapons. Evans is matched down the line by the rest of the cast, too. Must mentions go to Toby Jones as the still-human Arnim Zola (his eventual form in later stories in the comics is grotesque on a good day; a development alluded to in the first shot featuring the character that will zoom over the heads of those without sufficent geekitude, but appreciated by those of us "in the know.") and Tommy Lee Jones as the sarcastic Army colonel - throwing off his lines with a perfect light touch, or is it possible enough disinterested in his supporting role that it was easy for director Johnston to keep him grounded and on just the right note throughout? Interviews with the actor about his part in this movie suggest the latter, but who am I to say? I just work here. It's also very cool to see The Howling Commandos brought to life looking VERY much like their comic books counterparts, and I am also happy to report that we do get a Stan "The Man" Lee cameo which is short but gives the eternally boyish comics legend a funny line of dialogue.

The other inspired bit of casting is Hugo Weaving as The Red Skull. Our erstwhile Elrond from the Lord of the Rings movies is spot-on as the Nazi baddie: cold, cruel, calculating, and perfectly willing to kill, maim, or destroy anyone or anything in the way of his Master Plan. And for once in a superhero movie, the hero isn't the one with the cool car - no sir, that honor belongs far and away to Mr. Johann Schmidt in this movie. Check that baby out!

In this one, it's the bad guy who knows chicks always go for
the car...

Comics fans will be delighted with the little nods and touches to comics lore - like the human figure in the glass tube at the World's Fair, for example. The action and stunts are plentiful and well handled, with exactly the kind of battling and derring-do that Cap's been performing in his comics appearances for 70-ish years now. Director Joe Johnston, who also helmed The Rocketeer, brings the same sense of period to this movie, and it works really well. The 40's production design and costuming is terrific, and the movie looks marvellous (pun intended) from first frame to last. I saw this one in 3-D too, at the recommendation of my long time movie pal Richard. (Thanks, RBR!) And while it isn't a necessity in this case - much like Thor -  it worked pretty well here - better than Thor, actually -  especially considering it was a conversion job - just like Thor! Director Johnston skipped the heavy 3-D cameras but planned for the third dimension from the get-go, which shows; as does the care brought to the upgrade. Everything had a pleasing roundness and depth, although very little came off the screen, which is my favorite thing in 3-D movies. So, it's highly skippable in 3-D if you're not into that - but worth it if you don't mind the expense and enjoy the depth it brings. So, all in all, Captain America: The First Avenger turns out to be a fine Summer Movie - long on spectacle, but not short on cleverness and humor. Do I even need to mention that viewers should stay put through the end credits - a move that rewards the patient viewer with not just an extra few seconds of a scene but considerably more - though I'll go into no more detail here. I do have one quibble - the plot twist that causes Cap to come forward to the modern day is handled pretty matter-of-factly - one might almost say mishandled; because while comics fans familiar with the origin story in its 1960's form will certainly know what is going on, those coming to the movie cold will be left out in the cold about exactly how we get from that cold opening in the cold to the cold realization that time has passed while our hero was sleeping. In the cold. Am I getting warm in making my point? Well, if so, you know what they say: when you're hot you're hot.
    But I digress.
    It's the American in me.

Let's Get Out of Here ?

I'm once again not sure, but feel like I heard it in there somewhere - more research is indicated!

Eye Candy ?

Haley Atwell is awfully fetching in her 1940's gear and with her British accent - she's in!

And although I'm pretty sure she's not in the movie - honorable mention goes to this genderbending hottie:


Buddha Man's Capsule Review

Buddha Man says "Captain America is a terrific movie
that you don't need to be shielded from!"

Well said, O Wise One! And until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Video Vault of Mora Tau! 7/26/11

At the risk of turning the blog into a Captain America overload - but in order to keep the interest up while we're waiting for that one post you know is coming...here's some video clips featuring the Marvel hero!

Perhaps you prefer your superheroes a little more...animated?

And if you're getting hungry, we could always have a little...serial?

And I think that's enough....jokes? for one night. Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Maniacal Movie Poster Monday #27!

When Captain America throws his mighty shield
All those who chose to oppose his shield must yield!
If he’s led to a fight and a duel is due,
Then the red and white and the blue’ll come through
When Captain America throws his mighty shield!

I think today's theme will be pretty apparent from the posters, if not from the lyrics above...

Captain America  (Republic, 1944)

Just four years after he leaped into the pages of comics, serial factory Republic gave the Star Spangled Avenger his first Big Screen adventure. It's not great, and Cap has no shield (!) but it's still the first, and always will be!
Captain America II: Death Too Soon  (Universal, 1979)
In 1979, when The Incredible Hulk and (briefly) The Amazing Spider-Man TV shows were doing well for CBS, they tried some more Marvel heroes as pilots. This is a second pilot for a Captain America series - neither resulted in a series, mainly due to not being very good. They are also the first signs of Marvel letting filmmakers make catastrophic changes to their characters. In any case, both Cap TV movies star Reb Brown, and this one scores Christopher Lee as a villain! This poster comes from foreign theatrical release.
Captain America  (21st Century Film Corporation, 1990)
In the late 80's, Stan Lee  - in his Stan's Soapbox column in all Marvel comics - started touting a new Captain America feature film that was going to be completed in time for Cap's 50th anniversary. He kept talking it up, and when it missed its first release date he said that although the movie was great they were going back and "packing in even more action and thrills" or some such. No. Sadly, they were trying to salvage a terribly wrongheaded superhero movie directed by Albert Pyun, who's still only made 1.5 good movies in a career that spans three decades. This Cap flick only shows its main character in costume at the beginning and end of the movie, and somehow decides to make the always-very-German Red Skull an Italian baddie (!?!) I went with the teaser poster here - because...despite what it says right up there - this Captain America movie was soooo bad it never even played US theaters! Let's think about that, now! A film about Captain America that never played in an American theater. Wow. Also, if I'm not mistaken - that "indestructible shield" up there on the poster is dented. Look straight down from the "PT" in "Captain." The movie dribbled out on video in 1992, and went under pretty quickly. You can order it on DVD manufactured on demand from somewhere on the web, but I wouldn't bother.
I would, however, bother with coming back for another similarly themed post soon, and until then, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday Night at the Movies! 7/23/11

Who cares what picture we see?

Lois Maxwell would, and I think she'd be happy if we went with a double feature tonight!

In those wild days before home video, the only way to see an older film you loved was either to catch it smushed onto your TV screen wrapped around cat food commercials, or when the studio would do a re-release, like the one above. Sorry that both the trailer and the poster are in slightly rough and washed out condition - but this was a short running engagement, and I think we're lucky somebody held onto these at all!

And just for fun - what if Sean Connery decided to come back out of retirement for one more 007 adventure? Wouldn't the odds be better than good that they'd go for the third version of Thunderball? The very clever editor who came up with this next clip certainly thought so...

And of course, these films (well, except for Thunderball Never Dies, because I'm waiting for the Betamax release) are in a place of honor in the video vault - on the 007th shelf - and sit ready to watch at any point - starting with tonight, should you turn up on my doorstep!

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

Friday, July 22, 2011

Bride of Buddha Manstein!

WARNING - The Golden Headed Reviewer demands a mate!
Or Coffeemate. Either one's fine.

They did it... Meh Way.

The Boogens (1981) To answer that question right off...they have nothing to do with nasal mucus deposits, but instead Boogens are mean little dog sized subterranean critters crawling up out of the earth in this fairly obscure monster movie from the early 80's horror boom. The story has two veteran miners moving into a small Colorado town to reopen the long-closed silver mine. Luckily for us, they have also hired two young guys to assist who just happen to be exactly right to be the lead and sidekick of an 80's horror movie. Unluckily for them, their work in the mine also involves opening up tunnels long shut off, including one right underneath the house the young guys are renting and sharing with their girlfriends. This brings out a mysterious old man who starts skulking around the mine and the house, and from underground, some nasty little critters who proceed to eat the cast one by one.

Fred is McCarren a torch for Rebecca, despite the Balding.

I had never managed to see this particular horror flick, missing it in the theater and never finding it on any of my cable channels or on VHS for rent in any of the years since its original release. As it turns out, the movie is only okay. It starts off well, introducing four likable main characters and setting up the main plot with the original mine's closing being shown through newspaper clippings over the credits. From there, though, things slow waaay down as the Boogens claim only one victim in the first 50 minutes, though they do provide a constant threat to one character's dog.

And speaking of the Boogens, that is another big problem with the movie. Despite getting their appellation into the title, the creatures are only name checked in the movie once by that mysterious old guy who mumbles it during an attack scene, making even the one vocalization easy to miss. And along with never explaining why these creatures are called Boogens, the movie pretty much drops the ball entirely on filling in any back story at all.

Anne-Marie Martin and the
clingiest damn towel in movie history
We get hints along the way that these creatures caused the mine to close 70 years before, and we expect that the old guy is going to eventually open up and spill the answers to all the questions. About the time we realize that this man, though elderly, is too young to have been an adult involved in a mining disaster 70 years before, he does finally stop skulking and step out center stage, but he barely has time to say he is the son of the single survivor of the mine's collapse, yell "You've let them loose again!" and mumble "It's the Boogens!" before one pops up to shut him up permanently. So the questions of what the Boogens are, where they came from, and how they survived 70 years closed off in the mine are never answered. On the plus side, the cast is kind of fun, with recognizable faces Rebecca Balding (Silent Scream and TV's Soap) Fred McCarren (Xanadu), Anne-Marie Martin (Dori Doreau on TV's Sledge Hammer!) and veteran character actors John Crawford (all over 60's and 70's television, like Batman and Mission Impossible) and Jon Lormer (Creepshow).

Boogen, Danno.
 The Boogens themselves are mostly represented through low to the ground point of view shots for the first hour or so in classic pre CGI monster movie style until they are finally revealed in all their early 80's animatronics glory near the climax. Of course, special effects critters are expensive, so there is really only one, but he plays several Boogens in the last twenty minutes or so. It is an effectively designed and nasty looking octopus type thing, though the lack of movement hinders the chase scenes since the movement is restricted to waving tentacles and growling. Luckily those low down point of view shots can still fill in for the chases. All in all, this one almost succeeds, but the draggy middle and lack of exposition end up making it only for 80's horror completists in the end.



The Relentless Four (Aitor Films, 1965) This is a fairly standard issue spaghetti western from the mid-60's except for two facts: 1.) It stars Adam West right before he slipped on the cowl, which is marvelous; and 2.) star Adam West is dubbed by another actor, which cuts the marvelousness by half. The story gives us Sam Garrett (West), a Texas Ranger fond of riding the range and dispensing justice while wearing a bright pink shirt. This flamboyant dress sense nearly proves his undoing when a foursome of no-goodniks dress one of their number in a matching ensemble and knock somebody off. Of course, the eyewitnesses all describe the perp in the pink shirt, so it's not long before Sam is under arrest, leaving that titular quartet free to ravage the countryside. Will Sam be able to get free long enough to track down the real perps and prove they framed him?

The Mild Mild West.
Director Primo Zeglio pretty much paints by numbers here, with the novelty of Adam West in the lead sunk by the dubbing. The story is serviceable, and the action is well handled and plentiful, so if you like any Western flick served up slathered in a hearty marinara, this is definitely worth a watch. But if you're tuning in to see the West put in the Western, this one's pretty much a no-go.

And that will wrap us up for this go-round. Until next time, always remember to keep watching the skies!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Celebrity Endorsement: Nick Searcy!

In place of the usual Video Vault of Mora Tau post, I am thrilled to announce that self-proclaimed International Film and Television Star Nick Searcy, currently of the F/X series Justified and many fine films like Fried Green Tomatoes and Cast Away has actually appeared in a very darkly lit video clip in which he speaks about this very blog.

Take it away, Nick!

You know, next time, maybe we can shoot that outside in daylight on a sunny day or something.

And until we do, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

It is indeed a strange world...

Firstly - the theme to yesterday's Maniacal Movie Poster blog post was - director David Lynch! And now for why!

Well, it has to do with the movie Blue Velvet.

You know the one - Dennis Hopper? Isabella Rosellini?
Kyle MacLachlan?

Okay, bear with me, as my tale of this past weekend backs up nearly two decades for exposition!

I've been friends with makeup artist Jeff Goodwin for almost twenty years now. We met on the set of Super Marios Bros. in 1992, where the film veteran befriended one of the newest and greenest production assistants he'd ever worked with. In fact, I'd started as an extra on the movie, and managed to work my way over to the crew during the seemingly life-long production of SMB.

Jeff Goodwin circa 1992 - Super Mario Bros.

This is how I appeared as an extra in Super Mario Bros.
I'm the one on the left. I don't remember the name of the
young lady, sadly. I'm also wearing a cool lizard scale
forehead patch applied by Jeff Goodwin. Would you like to
see me in the movie? Good, so would I. *sigh*

I think Jeff recognized in me a fellow film buff and a unabashed fan of movie makeup and makeup effects, and so we became fast friends. We continued to work together several times over the next decade. With more experience under my belt, I was often hired as the production assistant who "ran first team," which is movie jargon for coordination of the actors through makeup, hair, and wardrobe and sending them to set when called for. As a result, I spent a lot of time around Jeff, and I loved hearing his production stories of his days starting out with Earl Owensby, and proceeding through that wondrous 1980's time when Dino DeLaurentiis turned little Wilmingon NC into the third largest film production center in the United States - after Hollywood and New York, of course.

One of the wildest and best movies Jeff worked on was David Lynch's Blue Velvet. Let me go on and say SPOILER ALERT here for anyone who's not seen Blue Velvet but is planning to. (First off - what are you waiting for? It's been 25 years! Jeez!) Jeff was makeup supervisor for the film, and as part of his duties for the movie, had of course created The Ear. You know, the severed body part found in a field by Kyle MacLachlan that sets off the whole movie?

Well, one of the benefits of being a pal of Jeff Goodwin's is that at some point, if you're good, he might actually retrieve the one and only screen used Ear from the secret vault it is stored in - and not only show it to you...oh no...if you're really good he might let you hold it! What an incredible opportunity for a film buff - to hold such an iconic piece of film history between your fingers...with only a tiny bit of imaginative thought, you can picture yourself in a field, holding this thing and little realizing just how much your life just changed...

Circumstances have taken Jeff away from Wilmington NC in the 21st century. He now lives in Rome, Italy, and works all over Europe and places like that. But we've stayed in touch over the years, our friendship as strong as ever. The Ear lives on as well, still in as almost a peak condition as when it dangled from Kyle MacLachlan's fingers. This is because Jeff Goodwin constructed the ear in a revolutionary new way for movie makeup effects. Now, there are a few stories about the development and creation of this piece - and I'm leaving most of them for Jeff Goodwin to tell in this documentary. But I am going to mention why The Ear is still in such good shape. Up to the time Blue Velvet was filmed, a fake body part like this one would have been fashioned out of latex rubber. But latex wasn't going to give the ear all the properties Jeff wanted it to have, so he decided to go with a new medium to produce the piece - he used silicone for the first time in film prosthetics, as silicone rather uniquely mirrors flesh in all its jiggly wiggly glory.

Not silicon.

 It also holds up across years much better than latex, which continually dries out until it crumbles away - but thanks to the silicone Mr. Ear is just as supple and youthful looking as the day he turned up in that field. And as far as silicone goes - let's stop and think about this - after developing the silicone process, Jeff shared his insights with his colleagues, including Dick Smith -  and the use of silicone in prosthetics quickly caught on - now being used more often, I would say, than latex rubber in the creation of certain kinds of prosthetics. And in fact, the same use of silicone to reproduce flesh has extended even further - into the realm of prosthetic personal pleasure personnel - if you take my meaning and I'll bet you do. So, if you have a very special friend at home and silicone was the medium - you more than likely have Jeff Goodwin to thank for it.

But I digress - and I mean really digress!

Recently, Jeff told me he was contacted a while ago by a Wilmington filmmaker named Benedict Fancy, who was gearing up along with his production company partners to shoot a 25th anniversary documentary on the making of Blue Velvet. I was happy to hear the film was being commemorated.

Benedict Fancy.

Fiddler's Creek Productions logo in very small form.

The idea was for Jeff to be flown in from Rome to shoot his interview pieces in Wilmington, which is a little different that most documentaries like this - which would normally send a small crew to Jeff in Italy, interviewing him there. But for this project, now called It's a Strange World - The Filming of Blue Velvet, it was important to bring as many of the crew as possible here, for reasons I'll explain in a moment. In any case, after much prep and planning, and with the incredibly serendipitous financial backing of a New York City art gallery that wanted Jeff and The Ear to be a part of an art show they were planning called "Magnificent Obsessions," Jeff Goodwin and Mr. Ear (as he calls it) were flown over to the United States. The art gallery show was apparently a great success, and now Jeff has travelled on down to Wilmington, where over the last week or two he has been interviewed on several of the locations by Benedict Fancy, aided by his talented co-producers and crew from Fiddler's Creek Productions.

Jeff Goodwin and Mr. Ear today.
This past Saturday night, July 16th, as a part of a series of mini-festivals headed up by the Cucalorus Film Festival; featuring the work of one Wilmington filmmaker - called the Local Focus series - the subject was Benedict Fancy, and amid several entertaining shorts created by Mr. Fancy and Fiddler's Creek, there was some "teaser footage" from It's a Strange World - The Filming of Blue Velvet (henceforth IaSW). I was blown away by what I saw. This is going to be an amazing retrospective piece, combining new interviews with the crew on the actual still-standing film locations, intercut with film clips and an amazing array of behind the scenes photos taken by German photographer Peter Braatz during the original film's production. The 3 clips were brief - like 3 or 4 minutes each - but wow! What a revelation they were! The whole idea of this documentary's baseline idea - to focus on the crew, as opposed to the actors and director - take it into a whole new realm of cataloging film history. My excitement for the project leaped to new heights - I cannot wait to see this movie!

As far as the documentary being a record of the crew's stories - this was planned all along, but the wisdom of this course was proven when Benedict Fancy contacted Jeff Goodwin about participating in the project - one of the first things Jeff asked was "does David Lynch know about this?" Because without the original film's director's approval, Jeff wouldn't have felt comfortable being included. Shortly after, through the efforts of some of the BV crew members, David Lynch was contacted, and after hearing that the cast would not be the focus as they are in so many of these movies, the director signed off on the idea - though it seemed to go without saying that the notoriously quiet Mr. Lynch would not be participating. In my heart of hearts though, I hold out hope that after seeing a rough cut - which he surely will when the project is completed - maybe David Lynch will change his mind and for the first time go on record after the intervening decades about his experiences directing this amazing movie.

After the showings, the crew from Fiddler's Creek, Blue Velvet actor Fred "The Yellow Man" Pickler - a really interesting and funny guy who had his one and only experience in front of a movie camera on BV - but who also supplied prop firearms to the production, thereby making him a crew member and bypassing the "no cast" rule - along with Jeff Goodwin mingled with the crowd and chatted, and Mr. Ear turned up for some photo ops as well. I took a few crappy photos with my cell phone - here they are:

Fred Pickler (l), and Jeff Goodwin (r) watch director Benedict
Fancy do his Kyle MacLachlan impression.

Back in the hand that made it.

An "earie" shot.

Back into storage.

It was a wonderful evening, and really stoked me up to want to be a part of helping this production get completed. I headed over to their IndieGoGo website and made a financial contribution. Because the production of IaSW is not funded per se, there's not really a budget to speak of. The producers raised a couple of thousand dollars through IndieGoGo - one of those donation websites - to get started, and they are currently in the middle of a second fund raiser to help complete more travel and interviews with other crew members from Blue Velvet. But why don't I let Mr. Benedict Fancy tell you about that?

And if you'd rather just go to the site directly - where the same video introduction is on the home page - here is a link:


This is a really worthwhile project, and if you're a fan of Blue Velvet and want to contribute in any way or amount - I know the producers and crew will be ecstatic and most appreciative. If that's not how you roll - sending positive vibes can be a good thing too!

And if you want to spread the word - on the fund raising or the project itself - please feel free to do that too!

In the meantime, we'll wrap this one up - thanks for coming by, and until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Maniacal Movie Poster Monday #26!

In celebration of my weekend - here's another themed presentation of a movie poster triple play - it's not going to be hard to peg the theme here - but why it was chosen? Well, that would be telling...

The Elephant Man  (Paramount, 1980)

Blue Velvet  (DeLaurentiis Entertainment Group, 1986)

The Straight Story  (Buena Vista, 1999)

Well, I'm sure you figured that one out - but that leaves the question - why? And for that you'll need to return for the next post - and until then, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Public Service Announcement 7/17/11!

In the interests of serving the public by announcing, which was one of the main reasons this blog was started, after all - LGOOH, along with artist Rob Kelly,  presents the following:

Thank you Mr. Milland! I guess when it comes to eye doctor appointments, "X" really does mark the spot! And until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Saturday Night at the Movies 7/16/11!

Who cares what picture we see?

Mark Hamill absolutely does, and that points us to this:

I missed this in theaters despite being a fan of The Animated Series - and that was a mistake, as this is a terrific animated feature and would have been amazing on the Big Screen. But don't take my word for it - here's a SNatM bonus feature, with a couple of familiar faces letting you know how good this movie is:

So, it's got all the stuff a good Batman movie should have, and it wraps them up into a tight 77 minute package - I added it to the video vault after seeing it on laserdisk (!) for the first time - thanks, JG! And it sits ready to roll at any time, even, say...tonight! Should you care to stop by, that is!

And until next time, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Awwww...Meat Loaf again?

Roadie  (United Artists, 1980)

Before the Camera:

Meat Loaf  (The Rocky Horror Picture Show)
Kaki Hunter  (Every Porky's movie ever made)
Gailard Sartain  (Ernest Goes to Camp)
Don Cornelius  (Cleopatra Jones)
Rhonda Bates  (Fast Break)
Joe Spano  (TV's Hill Street Blues)
Richard Marion  (Alabama's Ghost)
Sonny Carl Davis  (Evil Bong 3-D: The Wrath of Bong)
Roy Orbison ... Himself  (The Fastest Guitar Alive!)
Hank Williams Jr. ... Himself
Hector Britt  (Part 2, Mad Mission: Aces Go Places)
Larry Lindsey  (New Year's Evil)
Hamilton Camp  (Starcrash)
Lenore Woodward  (Hamburger: The Motion Picture)
Terry Wills  (Once Bitten)
Helena Humann  (The Last Picture Show)
Marcy Hanson  (Blue Sunshine)
Richard Portnow  (Law Abiding Citizen)
Alice Cooper ... Himself
Sheryl Cooper ... Herself
Larry Marshall  (The Cotton Club - he was Cab Calloway!)
Kurtwood Smith  (TV's That 70's Show)
Deborah Harry  (Tales from the Darkside: The Movie)
Blondie (Chris Stein, Clem Burke, Jimmy Destri, Nigel Harrison, and Frank Infante)
Art Carney  (Firestarter)        <------shot in Wilmington NC!
Corpus C. Redfish

Behind the Camera:

Directed by Alan Rudolph

Produced by Zalman King, Carolyn Pfeiffer, and John E. Pommer

Written by Big Boy Medlin & Michael Ventura from a story by Big Boy Medlin, Michael Ventura, Zalman King and Alan Rudolph

In one of the stranger Rock-n-Roll Odyssey movies of the time period, that dinner staple Meat Loaf plays Travis W. Redfish, a rambling fellow making ends meet by working for his daddy Corpus C. Redfish (Carney). The elder Redfish's motto is "Everything works if you let it." Accordingly, Travis is a bit of a wunderkind savant, able to pinpoint and fix problems in any kind of mechanical or electronic device, a talent inherited from dear old dad. Travis spends a lot of time making beer deliveries with pal B.B. Muldoon (Sartain) and it is during one such run that Travis spies Lola Bouillabaisse (Hunter) hitchhiking and picks her up. She is a rock star groupie making her way across the country in the hopes of presenting herself to rock legend Alice Cooper so he may deflower her. Shortly after, the duo is picked up by rock manager Mohammed Johnson (Cornelius) who just so happens to be headed to the same venue where Cooper is scheduled to perform. However, it won't be a straight shot there. Oh no. There will be bar fights, shouting matches, police chases, phone calls to home, fights, car chases, stunts, and lots of music courtesy a very diverse bunch of musicians ranging from Roy Orbison and Hank Williams Jr to Blondie and Alice Cooper. Of course, the path to true love is never supposed to run straight - but who would have thought it would get as wild as this?

Meat Loaf thinks one more round oughta do it while Debby Harry
opens the last packet of Beer Nuts.

Alan Rudolph had alread carved out a directorial career making quiet and quirky character-driven dramas like Remember My Name and Welcome to L.A. when he somehow got this completely anarchic yahoo comedy going. It seems thematically similar to The Blues Brothers, but much less linear. I would have said Roadie was inspired by The Blues Brothers, except they both came out almost the same weekend in June 1980! The movie certainly has energy to spare, and the performers all stay on the broad side - this is another movie where I can easily imagine there were more mirrors laying down on tables than up for looking into - if you take my meaning and I'll bet you do. Meat Loaf is fine in the title role, although he's not as accomplished a character actor here as he has been in the last few years. Everybody back at the Redfish home is a lot of fun, with Carney, Bates, and Sartain all providing humorous moments. Out on the road, a lot of the performers are playing the roles they did in real life, and their lack of acting experience is obvious. But the stream of familiar established actors kept me locked in for the long haul, perhaps more than the story or plot. It's fun to glimpse Kurtwood Smith as a security guard, and there's a rather bizarre cameo by the Blues Brothers at one point. On the down side, I liked Hunter in the Porky's movies - at least, I think I did, it has been 25+ years since I've sat down with any of them - but wow she's obnoxious here. I also find it extremely strange that Lola says more than once that she is underage, a fact I thought was going to be disproven by the end of the movie, considering...but if it's ever contraindicated and she admits to being older, I totally missed it. To me, that does put a bit of a skeevy edge on the movie, what with Mr. Loaf being 33 at the time and all. But considering the movie is rated PG, maybe I'm making too much of this...in any case, if you're a fan of any of the musical groups who act in this, or you enjoyed The Blues Brothers or other rambunctious comedies of that ilk, you'd probably find something to love with this flick. Fans of director Rudolph's other movies might want to steer clear; as this is - as Leonard Maltin wrote - like a Hal Needham clone; fairly noisy but definitely full of pep. If you're so inclined, check 'er out!

Let's Get Out of Here ?

We do have a Triple Lindy here - at roughly 11:00 Joe Spano hates being passed in both lanes; at approximately 24:00 Meat Loaf apparently loses his damn mind when he seems to have heard enough Roy Orbison; and then going for a personal double - at around 59:00 Meat Loaf thinks there are too many vending machines in the swimming pool.

Eye Candy ?

Kaki Hunter may be a nice lady, but she looks like a collection of broomsticks wearing clothes, so no. Rhonda Bates is in reality a very tall and very cute lady, but she's not showcased here in that way, so no.

Sorry ladies.

But we do have a winner! (Even if I couldn't find a picture of her from the movie...)

But check out the incredibly lovely Sheryl Cooper!

Welcome to the list, Mrs. Cooper! I would have said Welcome to my Nightmare, but 1.) I figure you've heard that once or twice already; and 2.) you're too dreamy for a nightmare!

Buddha Man's Capsule Review

Buddha Man says "Roadie might have more value as a
wallow in 1980 nostagia than as a good movie,
but worth a look either way."

Thank you gold buddy! Til next post you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Video Vault of Mora Tau! 7/13/11

We got the beat, and it's time to dance! Let's get our dancin' shoes on and cut a rug with some primo video clips from a smattering of sources.

How about that bastion of boogie - starring the Solid Gold Dancers -

Here's a wonderful moment from a very funny movie - Love at First Bite, with George Hamilton and Susan Saint James.

By the way - if this clip inspires you to want to see the whole movie - be aware that due to rights issues the DVD release puts a different and generic song over this scene. *sigh*

Simply one of the best and most surprising videos of the last decade - featuring a guy who just wants to be remembered as an old hoofer...

And lastly, the opening minutes to one of my favorite movies - which I'm not naming! It's the Electric Light Orchestra, and the song is called "I'm Alive!"

And that will wrap this one up! Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Stew-art Little!

That is correct! Let us grab up our bowls and spoons, for it is surely time for another heaping helping of that most satisfying of meals for our eyes...

Random Stew!

Let's go ape!

Ape over 1976's obsession with King Kong! Okay, so much here - first off, does anyone even remember Burger Chef? And man, was that guy's painted King Kong literally everywhere in 1976 or what? Puzzles, magazines, toys, glasses, books, you name it, one of the above shots was on it! Dino de Laurentiis may have made some crappy movies in and amongst his bona fide classics - but you cannot say the guy didn't know how to PROMOTE. I wish I had these glasses now...

UPDATE - 7/23/11 - I love Ebay.

 I read this book as a kid - owned it, in fact. It was my only experience with Lawrence Welk cast fiction.

Meanwhile, back at the cliffhanging serial...

With the fourth movie released just a short while ago, The Pirates of the Caribbean has turned into quite the lucrative film franchise - a film franchise based upon a thrill ride at an amusement park! And long before Jack was a Captain, there were even really cool models based on the concept.

Models that were extra special - because they had ZAP/ACTION! But don't take my word for it - here's some promo material to give us all the lowdown...

So, you gotta wonder - assuming the molds are still stashed away somewhere - why hasn't Disney glommed onto these for a new movie tie-in release?


Here's a banner link thingie I designed that is supposed to be going up on the link page of a pop culture website - if I designed the furshlugginer thing correctly, that is. What do you think of my design, though?

For the wrap-up we always turn to one of the lovely ladies to show us the exit. And you can never go wrong with Martine Beswick, can you?

My o my! And until next time, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!