Mom & Dad : Gonzo Nicholas Cage Cage

I saw this cool horror comedy which had a limited release earlier this year. There is a scene in where Cage destroys a pool table while singing ‘The Hokey Pokey Song’, that I really enjoyed. This oddball little film was able to use its indie status to be more experimental.  It is about a strange TV and cell phone signal that causes parents to turn against their children.  Everyone who is a parent is impacted when they are with their children, and the film shows in some detail the impact this would have on society.  Cage’s character makes Jack Nicholson’s character in the Shining look a bit wimpy. Many people often incorrectly assume Cage will just take any B movie he is offered, since he owes so much money on those Egyptian pyramids he purchased in Michael Jackson bankruptcy styled fashion. The truth is that Cage is given opportunities to play quirky characters who are not corporate inspired, characters close to his original Raising Arizona success. Other examples of good low-budget Cage include Paul Schrader’s “Dog Eat Dog” with Willem Dafoe (available on Netflix) and the new cult horror hit “Mandy.”

The director, Brian Taylor, did the Jason Statham film Crank, and he knows how to keep the plot moving, and the action flowing.   He directs the film in a “grind house” style that is appropriate. Selma Blair, as Mom, proves that she is an underused actress with a good performance that shows a lot of range.  GROIN Hall of Famer Lance Henriksen makes a surprise cameo appearance and steals some scenes in a funny role.  The film ultimately doesn’t lead anywhere that surprising or revelatory, but it works well enough to register as the best horror satire since “Get Out.” Without using much gore, the director generates scenes that are both nightmarish and rather hilarious.  If you’re looking for good cult horror, don’t miss “Mom and Dad” on DVD, Blu-ray, and Amazon Instant Video.

Tigers Are Not Afraid (Mexican Horror)

I went to a Mexican film festival in Salinas this week. I saw a bunch of pretty good flicks. So far I saw 5 movies for $25. The one I saw tonight, Tigers Are Not Afraid was the first horror one of the bunch, and I must say it was muy espanto (very scary)! The plot involves a little girl, whose mother has been killed by a Mexican drug lord. She has a big imagination and she teams up with a bunch of other kids whose families have also been killed. Yes, this is a big downer! It is pretty realistic , though full of horror and fantasy imagery. It has good special effects and a pretty big budget. Some of her hallucinations involved the tigers. She sees herself as being a kin to a tiger, She thinks she sees a tiger which has escaped from the zoo. Seeing the tiger gives her strength. Basically these kids try to take on the Mexican drug lords. This doesn’t turn out well for them (as you may imagine), It is a weird mixture of stark realism and fantasy imagery, even whimsical imagery at times. The images are somewhat visionary. If the female director would use this style to direct something less depressing, then she would honestly be a big deal.

 

Halloween 2018 : Jamie Lee Curtis Magnum Force

There is nothing I love more than a hot GILF with 20 shotguns. If Michael Meyer’s had chased me through numerous films, and already killed me in a forgotten role, I would be ready for the apocalypse too. This much hyped sequel, which has already raked in 90 million dollars since Thursday, was needed to give a shot in the arm to the viewers, who haven’t had quite enough scary films out lately (we can never have enough). David Gordon Green, of Pineapple Express fame, does a decent job of directing. He had kind of a Hitchcock-like flair to it, where you presume to know what will happen next, online to be deceived.

Oh boy, this film had a very high body count. Though I did not get an exact count. It was pretty gory too. I was impressed that the whole feminist angle actually works, and is not shoe horned in. It seems appropriate what happens. Jamie Lee Curtis gives a good performance, mostly physically. She is able to tell us through body language and facial expressions, rather than through written dialogue. The score was a little bit overhyped, in that it was overly similar to the ones from the first two films. Somehow Michael Myers seemed like a deranged left wing example of how the left fears the right, as he slays journalists and people who are generally PC. He is played by the same actor who played him in the first movie. Myers has aged in the film clearly, along with his sister (Curtis). I like the fact that Michael has aged. there are nuances like this that make the film above average.

Curtis has a billion guns in her basement. Her house is booby trapped. Her family is prepped to kill any intruder. It is basically a prepper version of Halloween. By the end of the movie I was expecting the killer to hold a 911 Truther symposium or something. I am still waiting for him to kill a couple of Hari Krishnas too. And no, unfortunately Tom Atkins was not cast in the film. Still waiting to hear on the Night of the Creeps 2 sequel. There is a really great ending where you are left completely uncertain as to whether Myers is dead or not. Don’t go to this movie expecting something as great as a John Carpenter classic. But if you want something scary, entertaining, and timely, check this out.

Finally! Phantasm 3 & 4 Individual Blu Rays

If you are a hardcore fan of the “Phantasm” series but were unable to pick up the 5-film Blu-ray box set when it was briefly available, good news! “Phantasm 3” and “Phantasm 4: Oblivion” have finally been released individually on Blu-ray.  You can now thrill to the saga of Mike (A. Michael Baldwin), brother Jody (Bill Thornbury), Reggie (the great Reggie Bannister) and of course the Tall Man (the late Angus Scrimm) all in the privacy of your own home in high definition.  How are these two films and their transfers?

Part 3 starts where the underrated “Phantasm II” left off, with the love interest from that one being quickly dispatched with and Mike now being a captive of The Tall Man.  This leaves Reggie all by his lonesome hunting the Tall Man, attempting to rid the world of his evil.  He is eventually joined by a tough little boy (Kevin Connors) and a tough black lady sidekick/love interest named  Rocky (played by Gloria Lynne Henry).  Will this unconventional yet badass group succeed?  Tune in to find out!

“Phantasm 3” is one of the greatest direct-to-video movies ever made.  It is scary, funny, sexy, and totally off-the-wall.  Writer-director Don Coscarelli takes a $2 million budget and makes it seem like $30 million.  The cast is clearly having a ball, which is appropriate since the Ball is back (again!).  This Blu-ray transfer is very well-done, too, with good use of detail and excellent picture and sound.  It comes with an audio commentary and behind-the-scenes footage.

Since “Phantasm 3” was supposed to play in theatres but didn’t, “Phantasm IV: Oblivion” was made on a much lower budget of about $400,000.  So you’d think it wouldn’t be any good, right?  You’d be wrong!  Part 4 finds our titular characters Reggie and Mike (minus Connors and Henry) still battling The Tall Man.    In the process of dodging  his killer spheres and trying not to fall prey to his mind games, Reggie  (and a mostly offscreen Mike) discover the Tall Man’s true origin.  Using previously unused footage from Part 1, director Coscarelli is able to show us sides of the characters that we’ve never seen before.  Despite the low-budget, the film seems epic and impressive.  Once again, the Blu-ray transfer is great and another audio commentary and behind the scenes documentary is included.

So if you love the “Phantasm” series but don’t own the Blu-ray box set, you should run out and buy the “Phantasm 3” and “Phantasm 4” Blu-rays, which are available new for about $15 new.  Angus Scrimm may be dead but the “Phantasm” series will never die!

 

Fahrenheit 451 (2018): An Underrated Gem

A lot of critics really didn’t care for this updated version of Ray Bradberry’s masterpiece. They felt it didn’t stick close enough to the original material. On the other hand,  I thought this updated take on the suppression of knowledge by an advance technological fascist state to be very timely. Michael Shannon’s character, the lead book burner, knows a bunch of Shakespeare. So why does he want to burn all the copies? I find this very intriguing.  It has to do with controlling the masses, and keeping the population dumbed down. It has to do with not questioning anything…

Of course, the idea of street bums dying to protect great pieces of literature is somewhat laughable, since the homeless have seemed to care more about rioting against liquor stores in recent years. But lets get past that.

On the internet it has become harder and harder to get information, especially for free. Try and get sheet music for any song to print up and you cannot find it anymore. Just a few years ago you could. Technological information is becoming scarce. Meanwhile libraries have not always that great an inventory anymore, from my experience, unless you count rich Asian areas like Cupertino. People are becoming less well rounded. As a result , all the inventions we get are along the same lines. For instance just a cell phone with a bigger screen, or just a faster wireless connection. Meanwhile, stuff like blockchain and Bitcoin has gone nowhere lately, since the banking and investment community got involved. Society basically is stagnating , much in the same way that this film illustrates. Thus, this film is very timely.

Some of the updates which have been made to the story include a super virus the rebel book savers have created in order to insert the encyclopedia of all books into nature, via a bird virus. Michael B. Jordan, from Black Panther and Creed, plays the conflicted book-burner worker. Shannon plays his boss and father figure. There is genuine feeling of them as comrades torn apart by time and circumstance.

So basically the filmmakers decided that since Francois Truffaut already made a faithful movie of the book in 1969, this new adaptation should focus on how the novel came true.   The movie shows how we have become an angry mob happy to destroy art in the name of political correctness.  We pat ourselves on the back for not reading while the world burns. The movie manages to follow the basic plot of the book while portraying this message.  It also manages to be action-packed with great special effects.  The decision not to follow every part of the book slavishly allows for greater suspense and the ending is a surprise of sorts.

So no, this is not your father’s (or grandfather’s) “Fahrenheit 451” but it is a very entertaining and relevant film that deserves to be seen and discussed.  Catch it on HBO, Blu-ray, and DVD.

 

Nintendo Reissue Rules

So I was checking out of Best Buy with some cheap retro Blu-rays, and I happen to see something stuffed in a box called “Classic NES.”  I saw that it had thirty games built into it and had a tiny NES console, so I price-checked it and found out it was $60.  I had to get it!

How was it?  Unbelievably good!  It just loaded right up with a menu of thirty games, all representing the classic original NES games but in high definition.  My main interest in buying the system was to see if the games held up or if I was just wallowing in nostalgia.  The answer to this query is that the games mostly do hold up, and some of them almost seem better today than when they were first available.

“Punch-Out,” for example, from which Mike Tyson appears to have been deleted, is still one of the greatest boxing games ever made.  Even with 8-bit graphics and sound, the game rules.  I also still really like “Donkey Kong” “Donkey Kong Jr.,” “Mario Bros.,” and the first three “Super Mario Bros.” games.  I was very surprised that I still found these games addictive.

Other games include the first two “Castlevania” games (which still hold up beautifully), the original “Metroid,” the first “Kirby” game, “Super Contra” (still insanely hard), “Ghosts ‘N Goblins” “Kid Icarus,” “Ice Climber,” “Balloon Fight,” “Ninja Gaiden,” “Gradius,” “Double Dragon II: The Revenge,” and “Tecmo Bowl.”  I did not find playing the old RPG’s on there like “Final Fantasy” and the first two “Legend of Zelda” games to be worth my time; it was just impossible to make a good RPG back then, apparently.  The graphics and gameplay on these just aren’t as good.

I ultimately discovered from this “NES Classic” release that sometimes the  oldies are goodies and that it can be worthwhile to revisit games from the past.  It was a bit irritating that the system came with just one controller and a tiny cord, so I’ll have to order a second controller and two extension cords.  I was happy to discover that the tech-savvy can use a USB cord to download 100 plus more games from the internet for free, and the system comes with an HDMI cord.  Overall, this “NES Classic” release surpassed my expectations and I recommend it to all video game fans!

Deep Purple (In Concert) Review

So on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2018 at Shoreline in Mountain View, Deep Purple surprised everyone by coming on last, AFTER Judas Priest.  This is interesting because you would THINK Judas Priest would be the big draw.  Indeed, they opened by covering a Judas Priest song (very well),  However, they came into their own when performing their own material, such as “Smoke on the Water.”  Their musical skill rivaled both incarnations of Genesis, while their guitar shredding brought vintage Black Sabbath to mind.  As someone who is not very well-versed in Deep Purple, I am much more likely now to buy their music.  Overall, the concert, which was relatively cheap to get into, was a head-banging night for the ages with both bands delivering far beyond expectations.  As we are currently in an era that is rather low on great music, it is important to appreciate the great bands who still endure.  Judas Priest and Deep Purple have been around forever and they STILL ROCK!  If you get a chance to go see them, DON’T MISS IT!

Book : Whitey Bulger on Trial

Am reading a book called Whitey on Trial, which is about Boston crime lord Whitey Bulger’s trial. The main thing that makes this book so riveting, besides the true crime factor (he killed about 20 people), is the fact that Whitey was said to be a criminal informant who the government aided in his criminal enterprise in order to nab other gangsters. The book asks the question whether the government should get into bed with the bad guys (out of necessity). At a certain point, it seems like more people were dying as a result of Whitey being allowed to run the streets than there would be had they arrested him. At a certain point Whitey corrupted his handlers, and they all became susceptible to blackmail due to the bribes they had taken.

Many colorful characters take the stand, and are brutally honest, as the trial progresses in vivid detail. Victim’s families of people gunned down in cars or telephone booths testify throughout. Many of the people hit were innocent cases of mistaken identity. Other people that got whacked, maybe didn’t need to be. Many were killed just to enhance the fear of Whitey’s gang, or because his gang feared they might become informants. Deep State ops like Mueller and Comey were involved.

Many gangsters in this book testify about having gotten plea bargains. They say that if you kill one person the government gives you the electric chair. But if you kill 20 people in a crime spree, the Feds will give you immunity if you turn into a rat against the criminal organization. Is this the kind of society we want to live in? Should hardened killers ever get a free pass and be put into the witness protection program, and let out of jail immediately?

Today, we see the Deep State tried similar things against the Trump administration. They tried to use Papodopolous as a guinea pig , to eaves drop on him and try and ensnare Trump in some kind of campaign violations. One former Deep State Op on CNN even suggested along with Schumer that the government would somehow ‘get’ Trump, and gave ominous warning. Time and time again, we see the government using questionable tactics to try and get indictments, rather than good old fashioned sleuthing and detective work.

The government has gotten too cute and too corrupt for its own good. It is time to return to relying on eyewitnesses and physical evidence based prosecutions. Tax money should go to hire investigators and to forensics labs, instead of going to bureaucrats who work too closely with the criminals, and who can be corrupted. Ultimately, in the case of Whitey Bulger, had the government just stayed out of it and not fed him info to help him maintain his empire, the gangs would have just killed each other off, or maintained parity, which would have led to stalemate. When one gang is made too powerful, that edge gives them license to kill.

 

Judas Priest/Deep Purple Concert Review (Part 1)

On September 29, 2018, my brother and I were able to go see Judas Priest at Shoreline Ampitheatre in Mountain View, California.  As huge metal fans at a nearly sold-out outdoor concert, the anticipation could not be more palpable.  To our surprise, Judas Priest came on first.  Decked out in metal gear and rocking relentlessly from song to song, the best performances remain entrenched in my memory.  “Firepower” from their new album of the same name was very metal and showed that they had not lost their musical acumen at all.  But even more rousing was “Another Thing Coming,” one of a series of bad-ass metal anthems sure to melt one of Hillary’s snowflakes.  The signature song “Breaking the Law” brought the crowd to its feat, a gesture of rebelliousness and strength that rang through the auditorium.  My other favorite was “Living After Midnight,” an atmospheric song that encapsulates my world view.  I was enthralled with the band and the song set; unfortunately the stage visuals and sound were not quite as amazing as they could have been.  The stage had too much fog on it, making the band somewhat difficult to see and almost impossible to photograph.  The sound seemed a bit subdued in my opinion, not being properly deafening and with the lyrics to these and other excellent songs being a bit muffled. However, overall this was an amazing set, well worth the effort to go see and something that every metal-head can get into.

Journal Entry: Date Unkown (Salvaged)

After several years traveling through outer space, I have finally reached I Europa. There are not only rivers with flowing water here, but also many forms of organic life, full of freedom and diversity.  It is dark here most of the time, plus there are giant sandstorms. I am happy to be free of Prison Earth. I still listen to metal on my Walkman, while fishing with a rod for other worldly mutant fish, of various vibrant fluorescent colors. I read some books  I packed along, such as Steinbeck’s Pastures of Heaven, and some Tom Higgens adventure novels. In addition, I am so very thankful that my sexbot (Vanessa) is still fully functioning.

I built a shelter on the surface, using petrified wood from the underground forests, which thrive in the cave channels. Vanessa has an incubator hooked up to her uterus and vagina. With time, my offspring will repopulate this planet. My children will know a world free of taxes, rules, and obligations. They will be self-sufficient, and organic- nourished. They will foster their own domain, and live on to be overlords of natural law, free of the tyranny of man.