Fall has only just started here, so there isn’t as much color as there will be by the end of the month, but I try for you.
I’d rather punch a shark than sodomize a jellyfish.
I’d rather live with a zebra than die with a dung beetle.
I’d rather be king of the Monkey Men then be a slave to the Slug People.
It is nobler to be a good man in a bad world than to be a mildly naughty man in a tub full of pudding. Note that I didn’t say better, I said nobler.
Waffles! Shwanekee! Nipples! Fuck!
People complain these days about how kids talk and harp on them for using words like “gangsta” bitching that they don’t speak the language properly.
And yet AND YET!
In The Sound of Music. Fa is defined as “A long, long way to run.”
Now either you old farts admit that you’re fucking around with the language as well, or I tell the children just what did go on at Woodstock.
Let’s be clear on something. Roman Polanski raped a child. Having raped a child, he fled the country because he was afraid he might have to suffer the penalty of raping a child. He then lived a life of luxury for 30 years, avoiding places that had extradition treaties so that he wouldn’t be sent back to America, where the raping of children is somewhat frowned upon.
That’s it, right there.
He slipped a 13-year-old girl a roofie and had his way with her. He has then announced that everyone should rape 13 year old girls, because everyone wants to. You know… deep down. That’s the mentality you are dealing with. He is not only proud to have raped a little girl, but he’ll do it again if anyone leaves him with their child long enough.
I know the victim has forgiven him, and wants all this to be over, but the reason it’s been spun out 30 years is solely because of Polanski dashing off to places where he wouldn’t be expected to pay for the crime of raping a child. I’ve heard the judge was going to reject the plea bargain and force the full penalty on him, but if you can’t do the time then don’t rape children! Even if he had been sentenced, he had lots of money and could have fought said sentence on appeal. We have laws that allow that sort of thing, even if you’re a filthy child rapist. And besides, even if we weren’t going to go after him for the whole drugging and raping a child thing, he fled from justice. That’s a crime against the people and state of California. It’s very nice his rape victim doesn’t want him hunted down and jailed, but there are other victims now. It’s no longer just the crime of raping a child.
I’m very disappointed in the Hollywood celebs who want him freed. I don’t think anyone should get an out just because they’re an artist. I’m very happy to watch Chinatown, but I think its director should be put in jail for the longest possible time allowed by current laws.
Let’s put another spin on this. Had he slipped a roofie to a 19 year old, and raped her, I’d still want the man’s blood. His excuse that she looked older holds no water with me at all. However, the fact that she was 13 at the time compounds it and we should be screaming for him to be torn apart by angry dogs. He’s a rapist, and a molester, and a piece of shit and we shouldn’t tolerate him.
He raped a child for Fancy’s sake! Seriously, why is anyone defending him? Who wants to stand with a child rapist?
No, really, why?
Syd has decided she wants a steampunk costume. Actually what she wants is to wear bit stompy boots with a skirt. At 32 she has decided to become a punk rocker, but she hates The Ramones and is indifferent to The Smiths. She also thinks she looks better in brown than in black (fair dues, she does) and she can’t do the hair thing. This way she can indulge her boot/skirt wishes and still listen to… whatever the hell that stuff is that she listens to and thinks is music.
She has decided what boots she wants, in brown please because it seems the chief point about Steampunk is that it needs to be sepia toned. She wants something more fantasy based on the skirt, something sort of peasant skirt. She doesn’t like the fitted look of the Victorian skirts. I have suggested some suits like this one and this one here, but I’m not sure how she feels. She sort of wants a comfy skirt and a Victorian/Edwardian top.
Then she wants a few peices from Leslie’s etsy shop, because she likes her stuff way more than the other jewelry she’s seen. Also, I’m sort of thinking that I’ve got to buy her the Zelda necklace because she says it’s the best video game necklace like evar. Oh yeah, Leslie! I need to talk to you about the best way to buy those off you. Soon as she picks another piece from your shop besides the Zelda piece.
So, my question to the people who are into steampunky stuff, are there places you might suggest where she might find nice stuff? She wants goggles and a hat to put them on, because that’s almost as important as the whole sepia tone thing. She has expressed interest in a full Victorian costume because then she could just take the punky bits off and go Victorian, but after some thought, I think she just wants a comfy skirt. Suggestions welcome, wanted and encouraged.
By the way, if you’ve bookmarked her big wishlist thing, you might want to ignore the fact that Dr. Horrible is on there, she bought it last week.
Must remember that somethings just plain don’t work on wordpress
Frankenstein (1931 Universal Dir. James Whale)
And they looked up just in time to see the LAPD Helicopter flying over head.
Time to switch gears for a bit. We’ll get back to vampires in a bit, but I want to do Frankenstein right now. Let’s begin with a story about Bela Lugosi. Lots of people sort of know the story of Bela and Frankenstein. It’s said he was offered the role of the monster and turned it down, and thus began his spiral towards Ed Wood. Not quite. The story I heard was at first they wanted him to play Victor, which isn’t really a dumb idea. Robert Florey was over ruled by Carl Laemmle, who wanted Bela to play the monster. Bela made a test real, with dramatically different make-up, but something happened and Florey was moved to a different project. When James Whale came on board, so did Karloff and movie history was made. I don’t know what happened between Karloff and Bela, but I assume changes in the make-up and script got to be where Lugosi wasn’t interested anymore. While many point at his loss of the Frankenstein roll as the beginning of Lugosi’s decent, it would have happened anyway. Type casting was going to eat him alive weather he had played Frankenstein or not. He did well for a few years but there was nothing to match up to the success he had as Dracula.
Wha-why would you even put that there?.
Now this movie opens with a bit of strangeness. The guy who played Van Helsing in Dracula comes out and tells the audience that the movie is very scary and if they want to leave now is the time. It was meant doubly as an “Ooooh this is going to be really scary” tactic while also mentioning that that Dr. Frankenstein was very naughty for trying to play God and all that. Religious groups have never liked the story of Frankenstein, something about objecting to hunchbacks I suppose. They’re very down on the Hunchback from Notre Dame too, have you ever noticed? I guess they’ve just got something against hunchbacks. Yeah, you could argue they disagree with the whole bringing back the dead thing, but then they go and worship Jesus who also brought people back to life and even did it himself so I think that argument is full of holes and it’s all about their hatred of hunchbacks.
I have to talk to the boss about an intercom system.
As the film opens we find… Renfield? No, of course not. It is Dwight Frye again, but this time playing a character called Fritz. He’s not in the book, and in fact not is probably a good time to bring this up. The movie that if Sir Clement Freud still alive I would expect him to buzz the movie for deviation. However, since he isn’t, I don’t. I suggest this is the highest mark of charity on my part, not asking a dead man to get back to work after he has gone on to his final rest. Anyway, Fritz and his boss Henry Frankenstein (not Victor as in most versions… I await a buzz Freud) steal the body of a recently killed buried man. They also stop on the way home to
pick up a bottle of milk cut down a recently hanged man. One assumes they look for only the freshest ingredients when committing blasphemy. Sadly, Henry announces that the neck is broken and thus the man’s brain is useless. He looks right into the camera as he says “We must find another brain!” which surprisingly isn’t followed by a sting of trumpet music. Actually, it isn’t because there wasn’t a lot of music in movies during the early thirties. Music didn’t really become an integral part of movie making until the late thirties and early forties. There are many movies, and this is one of them, where there is no music besides the opening and closing credits.
This is CLEARLY the face of sanity. Hell, I’d trust him to sell me a used car.
Those of you who have seen Young Frankenstein will know what’s going to happen next. Fritz breaks into a school, a modern one as there are girls in the current fashions in the class, and in trying to get the normal brain drops it in a very obvious attempt to drop a brain. There’s a bong off screen, but it was really just him trying to drop one brain and replace it with another. Then the boring bit ensues, and it is REALLY boring. You see, Henry’s girlfriend and his BFF get together and discuss how strange he’s been acting with his former teacher, doctor… um… ah… Van Helsing? Why not? It’s the same actor as we had in the Universal Dracula. I’m going with it! So Dr. VH explains to the GF & BFF that Henry has been trying to make life with electricity. This leads to them all agreeing to go se Victor and it takes them 2 hours to get there. The movie just stops dead when Henry, Fritz or the monster aren’t on screen.
You can just tell it’s normal! All normal brains have “Normal Brain” written in crayon on their labels.
Fortunately, after the seven-hour epic of the GF, the BFF and Dr VHF we get right back to Henry and Fritz working on the monster. They’re interrupted by the trio of dead air, but Fritz tells them to piss off and to take their copies of Watchtower with them. They keep shouting that they should be allowed to be in the movie no matter how much of a waste of time the represent and just to make them go away he gives them a couple of seconds. This of course leads to them sucking the life out of the movie as they demand to let them stay and watch him make the monster. The GF offers to bring some potato salad if he’s making Monster tonight. Typical of people, you get everything ready to go and people suck the life out of the room and your monster. What bugs me is that Henry mentions that he’s found the great ray that brings life into the world and the first thing that Dr VHF says is “Oh, and your proof?” and I’m thinking that if Henry didn’t have to entertain you jackasses who came to his lab in the middle of the night in a howling thunderstorm, maybe he could get some proof! Dumb ass! What kind of scientists are these? Why won’t they let the nice man get back to work?
Now bend and one and reach and one! Now jumping jacks!
After that of course, it’s just pure coolness. Victor brings his creation to life, which is always awesome. Then the movie becomes boring for seven or eight more weeks. None of the subplots or side characters are even remotely worth talking about, so I won’t. The last few reviews have been way too long anyway. Suffice to say, no one believes in Henry’s work, they all think he’s crazy or up to something or that no good will come from any of this or blah, blah, blah. Karloff is interesting to watch as is Colin Clive as Henry, but they’re not really interesting to write about because mostly it’s philosophy or pantomime. The philosophy is interesting enough, but in this day and age it’s extremely cliché. The pantomime is equally interesting, but the performance has been repeated and parodied so many times it’s a little hard to discuss without having you here to view it. It only becomes really interesting to discuss when Fritz starts teasing the monster with the torch and causes him to flip out. It’s because of the constant torment with a torch and a whip that causes the monster to kill Fritz.
You’re standing on my train.
I hate to be so critical, but the movie just plain dies every time Clive or Karloff are off screen. Any time they aren’t around the movie grinds to a halt, and while Clive can help sustain your interest, the movie doesn’t come back to life until Karloff returns and does something spooky. To that extent, the boys bugger up and attempt to kill the monster and he escapes from them. The movie then flat lines while some wedding subplot so dull I usually turn on the Rudy Behlmer commentary to relieve the boredom. Rudy at least, is always interesting. Sudden side bar about Rudy. He’s authored several books and his commentaries on classic movies should be held up and studied as a benchmark for others. He does a lot of research, clearly writes these audio essays out a head of time to avoid even a hint of dead air, and always quotes directly from letters and memos that show how the movie making process was performed back in the day. He does an excellent job on this, Casablanca, The Adventures of Robin Hood and many others. Here’s a list that imdb has. That was a diversion from the movie, I’ll admit, but the movie is REALLY boring in this part and it’s not like I have standards to let slip.
Shown: Actual shot from the movie. Not Shown: Anything of any interest.
The Monster finds a little girl, who is kind to him. They throw flowers into the lake which float, he then throws the girl into the lake to see her float among them. She doesn’t though, she sinks like a stone. It’s very sad, but it has to be done or the little girl would live through the movie and we certainly don’t want that do we? Little girls have to be killed, just a fact of life really. One might ask why she can’t swim if she lives near a lake, but that’s just crazy talk really. After accidentally whacking the little girl, The Monster comes back for Henry’s bride. He doesn’t kill her, but he does attack her a bit and starts a kafuffle which continues upon the finding of the little girl. At this point, everyone is out to get the monster and it’s time for the torches to come out.
You didn’t think I was joking did you? This is where the whole torches thing gets started.
Henry finds the monster, and the monster knocks out Henry. The monster takes Henry up with him to the old windmill, which of course the people attack as usual. The whole windmill would turn up again, and again in later films. Those of you who are big fans of Tim Burton, will no doubt see his version of Alice in Wonderland when it comes out. You may also recognize the whole windmill bit from Sleepy Hollow that this movie mercilessly rips off. The monster throws Henry down from the top of the mill and people set fire to it. This is supposed to be the death of the monster, but of course, it won’t be since there will be four more Frankenstein movies and I believe it’s supposed to be the same monster in each one. I have to be honest, I haven’t watched any of them in so long that I don’t remember anymore. Yes, I have the DVDs, but… well… um… yeah, I’ve been busy.
I’m sorry! I can’t hear you over the sound of how awesome I look!
Frankenstein suffered the same “Noun of Proper Noun” syndrome that Dracula faced. The Bride of Frankenstein is regarded as the best of the group, with Son, Ghost and House following. The monster would grow progressively less intelligent, less sympathetic and in the end was little more than a thug do get tricked into doing mean acts for whoever was in control that day. We might cover Bride before this month is through, but right now I think we’ll leave the others for another day if you don’t mind. I’ve got them all, I bought the Legacy collection for Frank as well as Drac. I could get Wolfman, Mummy and The Invisible Man as well if I felt like hunting them all down, but I don’t. Besides, if I start buying movies to review I’ll quickly spiral out of control.
Pimpin’: Some days are easier than others.
Next week, we’ll leave the old classics and head for something a bit more modern, or at least modern in the sense that it’s something I saw in theaters when it first came out.
Syd is doing Extra Life again this year. If you’ve got the extra cash lying around, you might want to donate. Here is her post all copy pasted and stuff.
Have you donated to Extra Life in support of pediatric cancer research yet? The deadline for the event is in just under three weeks, and my total is… well… honestly pretty pathetic. I know that this year has been hard on everyone, but surely people can spare $5? Or even $1?
Also, if you’re in the Auburn Hills area on October 17, Team Limit Break Radio will be hosting their gaming marathon at the Timbuktu Internet Cafe in Great Lakes Crossing Mall. Feel free to come see us and play some games. Or just point and laugh. Whatever.
Here’s what I’m wondering.
Can you get a PhD in Film Studies by calculating the ratio of how many gallons of fake blood per minute of film you will find in an average chambara movie? You’d have to break it down by decade, actors, series, and the eternal question of “Does CGI blood count?*”
I bet there is a formula for that. I’ll bet someone is thinking about it.
*Answer: Sure, why the hell not?
Castle of Death and Blood. Is there a story to that name?
After Universal got done running the bloodless vampires into the ground with 1945’s House of Dracula, the last “serious” Dracula film from Universal, the character went into decline for a while. In fact, if you watch carefully you’ll note that House of is an all in one affair and not really a Dracula movie at all. I probably wrote about this in my last review… which I haven’t actually written yet, but I have a plan for when these are going to be posted see and I think I’ll probably bring all this up then. Am I pulling back the veil too much? Can you see the man behind the curtain? Where was I? Oh yeah! After a while, the Brits noticed that no one was using this character and decided to give it a whirl over at Hammer, which was riding high after their Frankenstein movie had done so well. So they made their own Dracula movie, which was called Horror of Dracula when it was imported over here to avoid confusion.
Um… um… PASS!
This movie is the first time I remember seeing Dracula in color and they let you know it’s in color right away by showing red blood (paint, it’s clearly paint) splattering on a tomb marked “Dracula” in the opening title sequence. We don’t keep up that level of gore though. This isn’t a gory movie because it’s still 1958. Before we get going, this also only has passing resemblance to the book or previous movie. If anything, this strays further than any other version we’ll be talking about. It retains the Victorian setting though. We start the movie proper with John Harker showing up at Castle Dracula, reading aloud from his journal and looking for all the world like he’s about to ask Jeeves to get him a nice gin and tonic before dinner. While he eats dinner, a young hottie in a dress that really displays the fact that they had different rules about cleavage in England shows up and asks Harker to help her because Drac is keeping her a prisoner. We also learn one of the first differences between the original book and this version is that Harker is here to work as a librarian. The castle also seems to be in Scotland instead of Transylvania. It just doesn’t look Slavic to me. If anything, it looks like it’s eagerly awaiting the sixties so that The Avengers can come and film an episode or two in it.
It’s from the episode where Mrs. Peel wore a catsuit.
Harker isn’t engaged to Mina, but to Lucy and he’s not here to sell real estate but to whack Dracula. As Harker wanders around the castle, the girl in the low cut top comes and begs him for help again, using her nearly exposed breasts and her sultry eyes to lull him into coming close enough for her to bite. Yup! She’s a bride and fellow traveler as they used to say. You’d think that anyone named Harker would learn about this whole thing at some point, but they never do. She and Drac get into what is commonly called a domestic disturbance while Harker looks on in typical dumb incomprehension. The natural courses of evolution should have wiped out the Harkers ages ago if you ask me. As proof to this, Harker passes out, gets up and goes right back to writing incriminating evidence in his diary.
Very different ideas about cleavage.
Harker then wanders off and looks for Drac’s tomb, with spikes and hammer in hand, but as it’s only 20 minutes into the movie he fails to kill Drac by focusing on the woman first. I restate my earlier comment about Harker intelligence. In a neat effect, after he’s staked her, the woman turns into a withered old hag instead of the sexy young thing he started with. When Johnny boy runs to Drac’s coffin he finds it empty and Drac at the top of the stairs. I choose this time to remind you about my thoughts on Harker evolution. I’ll be reminding you about it some more in the next Dracula review. Seriously, boxes of rocks aren’t so dumb as anyone named Harker.
I think you’ll find my wallet is the one that says Bad Mother F***er on it.
But it’s all okay because Peter Cushing then shows up Doctor Van Helsing, the greatest hero since Yukon Cornelius! And he’s played by Peter Cushing, the only mofo that comes close to being as bad as Chris Lee. Dr VH searches the house of Drac and finds that all my thoughts about Harker are true. He was in a coffin, with teeth and all. Now we’re not shown, but it’s pretty well implied that Dr VH manned up and killed Johnny boy in a fit of anger at Harker’s legendary stupidity. Side note: This is as good a place as any to mention that I really like the way early English color movies and TV used color in their productions. They were so excited to have color that they really exploited it. In America there was a split between naturalistic color and heightened reality color with only fantasy style stuff getting the heightened reality treatment. In England it was all heightened color those first few years, as far as I’ve seen. They calmed down later, but the first few years were great.
Dude makes a wine colored velvet sports coat look manly.
Anyway, it turns out that Drac followed Dr VH home and is macking on Harker’s babe, which is Lucy Holmwood in this movie and she’s the sister of Arthur Holmwood who is married to Mina Holmwood. Now Lucy is sick, because she keeps opening the window for vampires to get in and you know what sort of sicknesses they bring. Dr VH takes one look at her and gives the basic “Close the windows and stuff the room with garlic” advice he always gives and which is always promptly ignored by the first maid that comes along. You ever notice that? Dr VH comes in, demands garlic and closed windows and someone always comes in and explains that they opened the windows, took away the garlic, cut open the girl’s veins, tore her shirt off, and wrote “fresh virgin blood here” on her chest, then wonders if that might have caused some of the later troubles. So… yeah, Lucy dies AGAIN! And then she starts biting children AGAIN! And they have to kill Lucy… AGAIN! Why? Because some damn maid can never EVER follow instructions. It’s not like this is the first time this story is being filmed. Someone must have pattern recognition. I must say though, Peter Cushing’s Van Helsing wins big points for complete and total badassery. He doesn’t freak out when Lucy comes back from the grave and starts biting people. He just walks up, puts the cross on Lucy’s forehead and never looses his cool or raises his voice. This is a Dr VH that never once flinches, not even when Vader decides to choke a bitch*. My man could out cool the Fonze.
Step off punk.
Holmwood and Dr VH go to look for Drac’s trail while Mina is called away to the place where Drac actually is. How Mina is dragged away is also brilliant, as Drac sends a boy to tell her that her husband has a message. When they find her, she’s covering up her neck and it’s commented on that she looks pale. I shall now once again make my statement about the lack of pattern recognition in the people of Victorian Britain. I mean… damn! They do eventually figure it out and lay a trap for our vamp Drac, which he evades and almost kills Mina. These guys are seriously useless.
Yeah, the movie is only named after me, could I have one still?
Then the big climax comes. One of the maids explains she was told not to go to the cellar and Dr VH books it to the basement where he finds Drac’s coffin. He leaves a silver crucifix, Drac walks in and runs out, and the chase is on! Good thing too, we’ve only got 5 minutes left. Dr VH and Holmwood chase Drac home, Drac tries to bury Mina sans coffin and then runs to his crypt. Clearly, Drac panicked at the end. He’s not thinking about his next move, he’s just reacting. A fistfight between DR VH and Drac ensues, then they break out the capoeira and then getting into wire-fu. The fight ends when Dr VH pulls the drapes down and lets the sun shine just as… what band sang that song? Anyway, the sun turns Drac into a big pile of ash, which blows away in the wind.
Dude even makes a fur lined over coat look masculine. Why are we not worshiping this man?
This movie isn’t as great as some later vampire movies would be, but it sure set the stage for later movies. As much as I tease, this is really great for what it is and the time in which it was made. There are a lot of innovations in this movie that would follow in later movies, not least of which is the graphic onscreen death. I really like this one, I approve, even if it is a little silly by today’s standards you can’t ignore Lee’s and Cushing’s great performances.
And all that’s left is a ring and some ash.
Next week, we’ll leave the vampires behind for a bit and go for another classic.
*I have been subsequently informed that this happened in a different movie.