Just so you don’t have to ask, the stills are taken from the criminally out of print I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957).
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
Sunday, March 02, 2014
Sure, I’m watching the Academy Awards. Since I’m an official movie reviewer these days (at least until Aleteia figures out they made a huge mistake), I feel like it kind of comes with the territory. Thank God the RiffTrax guys are watching it too, otherwise I don’t think I could make it through the whole thing. As you can probably guess, one of my problems with the show is that they tend to ignore the types of movies we watch around these parts on a daily basis. Well, let’s correct that, shall we? Here are awards in five categories that the Oscars overlooked this year.
BEST OLD SCHOOL CREATURE FEATURE YOU WOULD HAVE RENTED BASED SOLEY ON THE VHS COVER ART ALONE
This was by no means the best low budget sci-fi/horror movie to come out in 2013, but Frankenstein’s Army absolutely had the most imaginative monster suits we’ve seen in a long time. This was the kind of movie you’d see on the cover of Fangoria and then haunt your local mom and pop video store until it came in. And then your ancient VCR would eat the tape. But that would be the next guy’s problem, because you were definitely gonna wind that thing back up and keep watching so you didn’t miss a minute of those cool monsters.
BEST DOCUMENTARY ABOUT A TOPIC WITH ABSOLUTELY NO SOCIO-POLITICAL IMPORTANCE WHATSOEVER
GLOW: THE STORY OF THE GORGEOUS LADIES OF WRESTLING
Truthfully, I didn’t watch G.L.O.W. a lot back in the day, but it was occasionally on in the background. Still, I could probably tick off a handful of the wrestler’s names if I had a chance to win a game show doing so. But for a enterprise that was basically a mash-up of the WWF, Hee Haw, and good girl art, this look back on the show’s heyday turns out to be surprisingly touching in parts. Plus it’s got body slams in it, so that helps too.
BEST ALTERNATIVE TO PAYING TO SEE GRAVITY
As I noted in the comments section of my review of Gravity, it’s a film you definitely want to see on the big screen. And I can say that with full confidence because I got to see it for free. Given that the majority of my readers are Catholic, I imagine it could be a bit of a monetary challenge for them and their 17 kids to go to the theater, especially if it’s to see a movie in IMAX. We’re talking second mortgage time. Because of that, let me recommend Europa Report, a fairly smart space disaster flick made for the same amount of money it probably cost to feed George Clooney’s ego. About the only dumb thing the movie did was try to come out the same year as Gravity.
BEST WORST GODLESS MOVIE
THE LORDS OF SALEM
Rob Zombie’s latest is probably his best movie to date. Of course, considering all his other movies were big ol’ piles of crap, feel free to take that any way you want to. Snarkiness aside, what Zombie actually does do well is channel the movies he loved growing up. In Lords of Salem, Zombie draws on such classic devil-flicks as Rosemary’s Baby, Ken Russell’s The Devils, and just about every movie made about Satan in Italy during the 1970s. Like those movies, The Lords of Salem presents a world in which the Devil is unstoppable and God is silent, if not plain dead. Does that make the movie evil? Only if it convinces you all that stuff is true.
BEST USE OF STEREOTYPES IN A LOW BUDGET HORROR MOVIE
When bloodthirsty aliens invade an island off the coast of Ireland, it turns out there’s only one thing for the locals to do. Get drunk. No, seriously. The aliens won’t attack anyone with too much alcohol in their blood stream. Too bad they didn’t go after Salt Lake City, huh? You now, our parish once had a faith formation director fresh off the boat from Ireland who told me this joke: How can you tell if an Irishman has had too much to drink? If he falls down and can’t get back up, he’s only good for about one more. So, yeah, the drunken Irishman is a stereotype, but that’s who made the movie, so it kind of works. Basically, Grabbers is Tremors with barely understandable dialog, and there’s nothing wrong with that for those Saturday nights when SyFy isn’t showing anything new.
Well, the awards are nearing their end (please, God), so I think that’s all the categories I’ll do this time around. For all those folks who didn’t take home a statue this year (and for those who did, as well), just keep in mind what the Catechism says, “In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere ‘to the end’ and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God's eternal reward.” Win that, and you won’t even think twice about those little hunks of gold.
Friday, February 28, 2014
If you read this blog, then I’m sure you’re already aware of the upcoming Godzilla movie and have already seen this trailer…
Yeah, I’m a little giddy over it ( he says as he glances at the 6 inch tall Godzilla action figure sitting on his desk). If only May wasn’t so far away. Fortunately, thanks to the magic of marketing, we don’t have to wait until then to get a bit of new Godzilla action…
If Madison Avenue keeps that up, I may have to stop fast forwarding through commercials from now on.
I’m sure I’ll be reviewing the new Godzilla for Aleteia, but if for some reason I don’t, you can rest assured I will do so here. Until then, if you’re curious as to what I thought about the original Godzilla (Gojira), you can check out this old post. Hey, you can never get too much Godzilla.
For Aleteia this week, I took the family to see Son of God, the theatrical reworking of scenes from The History Channel’s hit miniseries The Bible. The film’s a mixed bag. While it’s not an artistic triumph like Passion of The Christ nor anywhere near as fun as something like The Ten Commandments, it’s at least respectful of the source material. Plus, as I discuss in my review, it does have a couple of scenes that are surprisingly Catholic for a movie made by protestants.
Still, if you don’t feel like paying box office prices to see some recycled TV footage, The Happy Catholic has a number of suggestions for movies to rent or stream for Lent. Jordan J. Ballor from the Acton Institute, on the other hand, has only one old movie on his mind, but it’s a classic.
Not all classics are created equal, though. That’s why Catholic Skywalker has compiled a list of otherwise great movies he feels are ruined by their third acts. I have to say I agree with him on Exorcist III, but if you know anything at all about that film, you know William Peter Blatty was forced by the studio to film the last 15 or 20 minutes that way. So yeah, the director thought the final act ruined the film as well.
But enough of all this talk about good movies. You don’t come to this blog for that kind of thing. So if you’re hankering for a bad movie fix, why not head over to Crisis Magazine where K. V. Turley takes a look at I, Frankenstein. Along with the expected awfulness, Mr. Turley believes he may just have stumbled upon the Frankenstein monster made for our times.
And finally, I suppose there’s no way to get through this weekend without mentioning the Academy Awards. While I reviewed 12 Years A Slave a while back, Matthew Becklo over at Aleteia has a piece up explaining why the film should, and probably will, earn the Oscar for Best Picture.
See you next time.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Sunday, February 23, 2014
It looks like The Lego Movie will continue to dominate the box office this weekend, but if you’ve already seen that and are looking for something new, there’s always Pompeii which I reviewed for Aleteia this week. It’s a pretty average sword and sandal flick, probably not something you’ll want to pay full price to see. Maybe part of the movie’s problem (beyond the horrible script, I mean) is that we’ve seen this kind of total destruction played out again and again on screens over the past few years. Hollywood needs to figure out audiences want a little more than just seeing another CGI city get wrecked.
What they really needed to do was take a look at all those old peplum flicks from Italy to see how to do this kind of thing the right way. Most all of those movies had awful scripts too, but they made up for it by managing to give you something memorable each time around. Mole men, vampires, rubber monsters… heck, even Zorro inexplicably showed up in one film. You could always count on a peplum to give you something weird. Take this moment from Ulysses Against the Son of Hercules, for example. I can’t think of anything from Pompeii that sticks in my mind the way this one of a kind cinematic moment does…
For me, it’s the expressions on the faces of the leads that really make the scene. It almost looks like nobody told the two leads what was going to happen before they started filming, so when the chicken people show up, they don’t have a clue as to what they’re supposed to do. It also kind of reminds me of the expressions a lot of us here in the States get whenever we see liturgical dancing.
Ah, good ole liturgical dancing. We make fun of it a lot around these parts because, well, it’s liturgical dancing. But aside from the mostly well intentioned, but undeniably cringe-inducing goofiness of the activity (your opinion may vary), there’s also the fact that the 1975 document published by the Vatican's Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship entitled Dance in the Liturgy declared most, if not all, liturgical dancing to be inappropriate for masses in the West. The document states…
“Here dancing is tied with love, with diversion, with profaneness, with unbridling of the senses… For that reason it cannot be introduced into liturgical celebrations of any kind whatever: That would be to inject into the liturgy one of the most desacralized and desacralizing elements, and so it would be equivalent to creating an atmosphere of profaneness which would easily recall to those present and to the participants in the celebration worldly places and situations… Neither can acceptance be had of the proposal to introduce into the liturgy the so-called artistic ballet because there would be presentation here also of a spectacle at which [only] one would assist, while in the liturgy one of the norms from which one cannot prescind is that of participation [by all].”
Basically, because dancing in the West is typically a hey-look-at-me kind of personal expression rather than a communal act of worship by a congregation, the Church says it shouldn’t be allowed during the mass where the focus should be on God only. Now the same document does also acknowledge certain forms of “rhythmic swaying and dance movements on the part of the participants” among some peoples as entirely appropriate due to their religious cultural heritage, but the exceptions are generally relegated to those in Africa and Asia (i.e. the Ethiopian rite).
So, if you’ve just got to dance before the Lord, that’s fine, but instead of trying to shoehorn it into the mass, why not do it the way King David did, stripped down to his ceremonial underwear OUTSIDE the sanctuary. The Church is perfectly fine with that.