Category: Marathons and Double Features

2013 Coolidge Corner Horror Marathon, Part I

Psycho
Seen: At the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, all on 35mm.

Oh hey, it’s that time of year again! Every year the lovely Coolidge Corner Theatre hosts a wild all-night horror marathon complete with live music, a costume contest, and lots of long-haired nerds. This year I was again joined by the magnificent Katie and her horror-loving beau, and together we took in several spooky classics. Also for the first time I participated in the costume contest! I forget to get a full photo but here’s a selfie from when I tested out my costume at a party, I was of course Dr Herbert West from Re-Animator, The Perfect Movie. I was a little bummed that this year there weren’t any video compilations from the Whore Church but it looks like they were premiering new stuff in Austin that weekend so I guess that’s why. We still got some fun trailers between films. Anyway, read on for the first three films!

1 Psycho (1960)
I hadn’t seen this film since maybe high school (?) so it was neat to revisit it on a big screen, as I remembered all the main points but was still surprised by some of the details. It’s a strangely-paced film, ostensibly a crime drama about a woman’s choice to steal money from her job, but really it’s about this unstable killer with whom she happens to cross paths. Hitchcock gradually shifts the focus and the perspective from her story to his story, and so the plot moves kind of weirdly but it all works thanks to the unsettling script, strong cast, and instantly-iconic camerawork. I love love Anthony Perkins here, he’s amazingly adept at switching between affable charmer and sinister sociopath, and it’s totally believable. Janet Leigh rocks some old-timey brassieres, a few cars are destroyed, and several people are murdered. Best of all I got to make a hilarious joke about Bernard Herrmann’s wonderful score, pretending like I thought it was stolen from Re-Animator. Everyone likes this joke.
4.5/5

2 The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
I saw this at the Horrorthon in 2011 so I was actually disappointed that they would show it again so soon- One thing I’ve liked about these events is that I’m always introduced to lots of awesome new-to-me films, but this year I’d already seen 3 of the 7 films being shown. Anyway, it’s still a good movie! Like Psycho, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is loosely inspired by Ed Gein, but much more visceral and gory in its horror. It’s got some serious scares, and an impressively resilient final girl. I mostly love all the freaky stuff with Leatherface’s family- like it starts off as this rural slasher but it gets SO weird as we really go further into this house and meet the inhabitants. The blood-sucking grandfather left the strongest impression on me this time, I didn’t remember how gross and creepy he was.
4/5

3 A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
OH MAN OH MAN. I’d been putting this one off for a while because I found the premise so scary (he gets you in your dreams? That’s fucking terrifying!), but I’m so glad I was basically forced to watch it here because I looooooved it. This movie is such a great combination of 80s ridiculousness, honestly frightening ideas, and amazing effects. I loved the characters, especially doofy Johnny Depp and the lovely Heather Langenkamp in the lead, whose wonderfully resolute character I really admired. And obviously Robert Englund as Freddie Krueger is fantastic, a truly memorable villain that I hear just gets snarkier and snarkier as the films go on, so I definitely plan on checking out some of the sequels. This one is pretty perfect all by itself though, gory and fun and chock-full of big hair, with a dreamlike atmosphere well-attuned to the subject matter. Nice score, too. There’s a reason it made my recent horror list!
4.5/5

Ok check back next time for Part II of the Horrorthon, which I mostly stayed awake for!

Somerville Theatre Terrorthon, Part II

Tremors-2
Seen: At the Somerville Theatre in Davis Square. But first! Read Part I!

After a very satisfying dinner and some much-needed caffeine, we were ready to sit through the next 4 Terrorthon films, continuing our cinematic odyssey into the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. Again, not much “terror” to be had here, but a really solid offering of sci-fi adventures with mild horror elements. The only one from this grouping I hadn’t seen was Tremors, but I’d tried watching it just a few weeks ago and my internet was being fussy so it didn’t work. I was really excited that I could actually see it, and on a big screen no less! And since this Thon went from 12pm-12am, I wasn’t even that sleepy (as opposed to the all-night escapades of the other marathons I go to). Anyway, read on for some sci-fi goodness!

5 Planet of the Apes (1968)
It’d been a while since I’d seen watched this one straight through, and it was both better than I remembered and just as silly. I mean, it’s tough, because conceptually there are some pretty serious ideas in this movie, and of course it can all be read as a parable relating to our own culture, but between Charlton Heston’s toothy, yelly performance and the privileging of spectacle over substance, it’s hard to really get into its more dramatic implications. Also obviously certain scenes have been parodied to the extent that the film feels like a parody of itself. It’s still a pretty good movie, though, with a fascinating ape society that I wish was elaborated on more, and great turns from Kim Hunter and a super evil Maurice Evans. Fantastic make-up as well, and I love the varied landscapes and weird biomorphic architecture. I just get bored with Heston’s exaggerated macho act pretty quickly, as with many of his performances.
3.5/5

6 Westworld (1973)
Westworld has such a good premise (super fancy vacation spot where guests can act out fantasies with robots in Western, Roman, or Medieval settings but then the robots go CRAZY) that I’m always kind of bummed that I don’t love it. Revisiting it now I feel much the same as I did the first time I watched it: It has some great ideas and a good cast, but the slow pacing and flat characterization is frustrating. I love love love Yul Brynner as the creepy, homicidal robot cowboy and how the whole movie basically turns into The Terminator in the third act, but the first two thirds are kind of boring. I didn’t mind the glimpses into this strange amusement park and its inner workings, but the protagonists are all kind of boring (yes, even James Brolin, though he’s looking good). Also: where are all the women? There are like zero ladies in this movie except for some sexbots and a few female tourists who are barely referenced. I mean I know all 70s movies are just about dudes but come on, can’t that NOT be a thing, somehow, retroactively? Oh well, the title links to my original review.
4/5

7 The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai (1984)
My love for this movie is no secret, and surely it’s painfully obvious how much a film like this suits my sensibilities- it’s wacky, it’s funny, it’s from the 80s, it’s got a lot of attractive, bespectacled nerds, and it doesn’t make ANY GODDAMN SENSE. Which I love. The titular hero is a rock star, comic book hero, heart surgeon, and physicist who saves the planet from asshole aliens with the help of his snappily-dressed crew. I’ve always wanted to see this film in a theater, so I was so psyched it was part of the line-up. It’s a fun film to watch with a crowd because it’s so weird and silly, that the audience reactions add to the fun. I’ve gotta say though that after watching this movie who knows how many times over the years, I only registered that Buckaroo is supposed to be half-Japanese a few months ago, and now I’m bummed by the whitewashing. I love Peter Weller and I think he’s great in the role, but it’s always frustrating when a white person is playing a character of color. I always thought he was just a white dude who was into Japanese culture because he’d been raised around Japanese scientists or whatever. This is revealing a not-very-well-kept secret of mine: I am terrible at paying attention to exposition. Like in every movie, I will constantly forget where the story is set, what year it is, how people are related to each other, what the overall goal of the protagonist is. It’s embarrassing. ANYWAY the title links to my original review.
4.5/5

8 Tremors (1990)
Ok! New movie time! This is the cautionary tale of two best friends (possibly/probably boyfriends?) who work as handymen in a small, isolated desert town. The day they finally decide to leave to seek a better life, they are suddenly surrounded by vicious, man-eating monster worms who move about underground. The few people remaining in town all band together to try and blow these fuckers up but it’s pretty hard when they keep eating everyone. It’s funny, it’s gross, it’s action-packed, and it somehow makes Kevin Bacon into a kinda charming goofball. Also it has an adorably frumpy lady scientist! AND Reba McEntire and Michael Gross as a trigger-happy couple! There are lots of reasons to watch Tremors, clearly. It’s also the only movie in the whole pack that actually scared me once or twice, with these unexpected jump-scares of huge worms bursting out of the ground, it’s kind of freaky stuff. Though it’s primarily an action-comedy, the premise is actually pretty terrifying because honestly how would we handle a monster that sensed our movement and attacked from below-ground? Like, where can we hide? They’ll just level all the buildings until they get to us, oh my gosh. The world is ending.
4/5

Well there you have it! Over 12 hours of movies, cartoons, and trailers and we came out mostly feeling like we had to brush our teeth. Which we did.

Somerville Theatre Terrorthon, Part I

caligari
Seen: At the Somerville Theatre in Davis Square, all on 35mm.

This year the Somerville Theatre has revived its horror marathon (some might recall I attended its last incarnation in 2009), and of course we took the day off to attend because of priorities. It was a lovely time, complete with cartoon shorts and lots of horror trailers, and I even won a raffle prize that included From Dusk Til Dawn on blu-ray! Wow! Also lots of fantastic posters were hanging all around, courtesy of long-time Thon-er Francisco Urbano. I loved that they programmed it in chronological order (and one offering per decade), too, since I haven’t been to a marathon that’s done that before and you could sort of see the progression of style and writing in genre films. They called it a “Terrorthon” but honestly there was not much terror to be had, and the majority of the films were straight sci-fi with maybe some horror elements. Not that I’m complaining, since I love sci-fi and there were some very cool selections, but “Terrorthon” is misleading! They plan to do it again next year and if they do I hope it’s actually scary movies. Then again I’m sure my horror lust will be sated at the Coolidge Corner Horrorthon this Saturday night. Anyway. Here are the movies, several of which I’ve already blogged about but that’s ok.

1 The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920)
I saw this years ago streamed on my laptop from netflix, which isn’t really the best way to experience it. Seeing it on a huge screen and with live musical accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis really heightened its effects, because this is such a goddamn beautiful film. I still think the protagonists are dull, and the pacing is totally off, but the artful visuals make it completely worth those drawbacks. I just can’t get over the contorted, painterly sets, fantastic use of color filters, and absolutely stunning make-up. I’ve also come to appreciate Conrad Veidt’s early use of leggings-as-pants, and his amazing face that I want to draw sometime. The title links to my original review.
4/5

2 The Invisible Man (1933)
I watched this for the first time three years ago, and remember not really loving it because I felt the horror elements didn’t work and didn’t like most of the characters. On second viewing I found myself really responding to the more comedic elements, because this movie is funny! All the scenes with the hysteric townspeople (especially birthday girl Una O’Connor) and bumbling police force are hilarious and I realized the film is more of a satire than anything else. Plus I still love the effects and Claude Rains’ performance. He sure does love yelling. And fancy smoking jackets. The title links to my original review, but I’m upping its score.
4/5

3 Dr Cyclops (1940)
This is one of the few films that was new to me, and I was excited for it when I saw it was on an icheckmovies horror list, but it was mostly a let down. The story concerns a mad scientist (Albert Dekker) experimenting with uranium in the Amazon Jungle, and some scientists he invites to help him out. He is very secretive about his work and after he gets what he needs from the group he kicks them out, but they are determined to learn what he’s developing. Turns out he’s shrinking living organisms, which feels really anti-climactic. Of course he soon shrinks the gang and they run around as rodent-size people for a while and Dr Cyclops (named for his glasses) chases them around the jungle. Eh. It’s mostly boring, definitely racist (hellooooo Latino stereotype!), and underwhelming in its premise. Dekker is good as the nefarious title character and I was happy to see a lady scientist who was mostly useful, and sometimes its silliness won me over, but that’s really minor praise. I felt like I might as well just be watching The Incredible Shrinking Man which is totally amazing and way way way better.
2/5

4 Forbidden Planet (1956)
I watched this movie the year before I started this blog, I can recall watching it in my depressing dorm room sophomore year on my tiny tv. I don’t remember it very well, something about Leslie Nielsen in outer space macking on Anne Francis and her dad’s a dick and Robby the Robot is there. Right? Yeah. Well my companions and I were getting hungry and didn’t want to miss any of the later films so we decided to take a break for dinner (at the meat-tastic M3, mmmm) during this one, sorry. We even braved walking into Honk! which just so you know was a very courageous thing to do. Oh, and there was a really fantastic Tex Avery short shown just before Forbidden Planet about televisions of the future, and it was literally laugh-out-loud and also fairly prescient.

Continued with Part II!

Anti-Gravity Double Feature: Jason X (2001) and The Pacifier (2005)

Seen: Both on our projector set-up, streamed from Miles’ harddrive.

Last Saturday my companions and I incorrectly assumed we could catch a 7:30 screening of Gravity at the Somerville Theatre. SILLY US. It was sold out at least a half hour in advance and so we walked back to our apartment. We decided to watch another space movie that Miles had recently acquired, a little something called Jason X. I haven’t actually seen any of the other Friday the 13th movies so this was an interesting experience. After that we wanted something more and after making a Jason xXx joke we realized that this could be the night we finally watch The Pacifier, a family comedy starring Vin Diesel that most people probably try to forget existed but had been on my to-watch list for a while. I must tell you though that after spotting the German dvd in a video store in Stuttgart, I can only think of it as Der Babynator. Maybe my favorite film title ever, to be honest.

Jason+X+14

So Jason was this guy who killed hundreds of people over the course of several movies, and when they finally caught him they found he himself couldn’t be killed (IRONY), so he was locked up for a while and eventually cryogenically frozen. Hundreds of years later he wakes up on a spaceship full of trigger-happy soldiers and hormonal college students, so, you know, one thing leads to another. I don’t think there’s much more exposition than that, really. I mean he kills a lot of people, and he’s in space, and eventually he gets super-powered because of technology. There’s a perky android in the mix, too.

Ok, I mean, OBVIOUSLY this movie is ridiculous, and like, what is even happening here. I don’t know, but it is pretty gosh darn entertaining. I mean, you’ve got goofy “futuristic” costumes (which basically means a lot of netting and bellyshirts), sexy times at inappropriate moments, gruesome senseless violence, horrific dialogue, and SPACE. There’s a surprisingly badass lady-action moment when Lisa Ryder’s “Kay-Em 14” is weaponized and just unleashes hell on Jason 1.0, so that was cool. And Jason X himself is kind of weird and awesome, all glowing metal and gross veins and shit, but he’s only there for the last 15 minutes or so, which felt like a cop-out. Overall it is not a very good movie, like at all, but I can’t say I wasn’t taken in by the grisly murders and hokey outer-space antics- it’s just dumb fun. Also: David Cronenberg is in this movie, presumably because he’s like best friends with director James Isaac.

As a movie: 2/5
As entertainment: 3/5

pacifier

Hopefully you all know how I feel about Vin Diesel. I feel pretty strongly. Because he’s so great, you guys! I knew The Pacifier would probably be dumb, family-friendly comedy and might feature a lot of Diesel embarrassing himself for the sake of the children, but I couldn’t stay away. The story revolves around Shane Wolfe (Diesel), a Navy SEAL who is forced to guard (and essentially babysit) a family after he loses their scientist father on a mission. Through discipline and a little bit of love he helps these kids get through a few weeks of school while also looking for some secret technology their dad presumably hid in their house. Also I guess they’re in mourning? I don’t know, they never talk about their dad dying but also maybe I wasn’t paying attention to most of the narrative exposition. I had a few drinks, ok?

Directed by Adam Shankman and written by The State members Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant, this movie is a lot better than you’d think it is. It’s extremely silly, of course, and generally nonsensical, but whatever- that’s basically the point! And it made me laugh! It helps that the cast is pretty strong, including Brittany Snow, Lauren Graham, Brad Garrett, and Carol! Kane! (!), but naturally this is all Diesel’s show. He’s doofy and over the top as this military dude out of his element, and it works. The script is decent, filled with unexpected situational humor and a few good one-liners, and there’s even some good action thrown in. Also: a Sound of Music musical number! Eep! It’s stupid, yes, and it has too many children, YES, but The Pacifier is basically a funny movie. THERE I SAID IT.

3.5/5

The 2013 Boston Science-Fiction Marathon, Part III

escape-from-l.a.
BUT FIRST! Read Part I and Part II!

Well ok then. It’s 4AM, we have had A LOT of science fiction. I don’t know, maybe you can’t handle anymore. Maybe you should just call it quits, go home, sleep it off. NO I DON’T THINK SO. We are in it for the long haul, guys, and I will keep my eyes wide open through the next four movies so all the geekery can really sink in. I was a little bummed that The Hands of Orlac was cancelled (I think the print didn’t make it due to the snowstorm), since I’d never seen it and was looking forward to seeing a silent German Expressionist film on the big screen, but then I realized that watching a slow-moving silent at 4 in the morning probably wasn’t the smartest programming choice. It was replaced with a festival film and the director was in attendance, so that was cool! Another nice touch was a showing of “La Luna”, the cute Pixar short made for Brave. Anyway let’s power through, dudes, it’s the final stretch of the Thon, and soon enough we’ll have to walk into the blaring sunlight and be… Outside. Let’s hold onto the soothing glow of the screen for a few more hours.

9 Motivational Growth (2013)
This was the replacement for Orlac, and I was looking forward to it because it featured the voice of my guy, Jeffrey Combs! It’s a strange, uneven film detailing the sordid, unkempt existence of Ian Folivor (Adrian DiGiovanni), a man who hasn’t left his apartment in many months, spending his time sleeping or watching tv. When his beloved television breaks, he feels a friend has let him down, and he attempts to kill himself, but after a serious head injury he spends a week talking to a sentient mold growth who tells him how to clean up his life. The movie progresses in a dreamlike state for the remaining time, throwing in video game-esque animated sequences and hallucinatory imagery. It oscillates between funny and interesting and gross and aimless, and I think my biggest issue was that I didn’t really care about the protagonist that much. His narration is often funny, but as a character I didn’t like him, so watching a film completely centered around him is a little tough. This was the most polarizing film of the Thon, as far as I could tell, with several people calling out against it while several quieter viewers seemed to really like it. I’m in the middle, I guess, since I appreciated its unique take on depression and its no-holds-barred weirdness, but I don’t think the premise really worked as a whole, and it might have been better as a short. I will say it definitely kept us all awake as we tried to understand what the hell was going on, and for a 4AM film that’s always a positive thing!
2.5/5

10 V for Vendetta (2006)
This is the one I had sort of blocked out to sleep through, at least partially, since I’d seen it before and wanted to make sure I was awake for Escape from L.A. But wouldn’t you know it, I just ended up watching the whole thing. This is a movie I remember really liking in high school, but upon a rewatch I’m not quite as taken with it. It’s grounded in a believable future dystopia and has a fantastic cast as well as some cool action scenes, but it’s also super preachy and unsubtle, and I’m really uncomfortable with the romance that develops between a strong-willed young woman and a man who has physically and emotionally tortured her. I feel like V as a character is given a pass for his murderous, cutthroat tactics just because he has a strong stance against the tyrannical government. He’s put on a pedestal instead of being recognized as the lesser of two evils. Not that he isn’t right- he is- but his actions are still questionable. Anyway I do still enjoy all the knifey parts and Natalie Portman shaving her head and the beautiful lesbian love story and Stephen Rea’s detective work.
3.5/5

11 Escape from L.A. (1996)
Ok obviously Escape from New York is an awesome movie, but I’d always been warned off the sequel so when I heard it was screening at the Thon I was half psyched and half concerned. Turns out this movie is pretty fun, if steeped in too much loopyness even for me. This time around Kurt Russell’s Snake (another addition to the aforementioned HUNKS this year) is thrown into the city of LA, which was made into an island and a mandated deportation area once some religious nut became America’s dictator. It’s got criminals, immigrants, and various folk who deviate from the new ultra-conservative standard, and the president’s daughter has thrown herself in with them in a bid for world takeover. While trying to retrieve a doomsday weapon that she’s entrusted to a dangerous faux-hippie revolutionary, Snake suffers run-ins with aging surfers, plastic surgery monsters, an opportunistic tour guide, various assailants, and a badass transwoman gang leader. And everything is set to a truly kickin’ soundtrack. I was way into it at the start, but towards the end they throw in hang-gliding and surfing and it just gets to be too much, like they didn’t know how to edit themselves at all. But the cast is fabulous (Steve Buscemi, Pam Grier, Stacy Keach, Peter Fonda, Bruce Campbell!) and you can tell Russell is having fun revisiting this character. Plus it’s set in 2013 so perhaps it’s an… omen?
3.5/5

12 The Fifth Element (1997)
This is another one I hadn’t really seen since high school but was looking forward to revisiting, especially since someone (sorry I don’t remember who) suggested that I do a gig poster for Diva Plavalaguna which is a good idea. The print melted twice, which was weird and scary, but we made it through somehow. The story of a gruff cab driver in the future who finds himself escorting a wayward god-figure to her destiny as a planet-sized pit of evil hurls towards earth is a path well-trod, but Besson injects enough humor, visual ingenuity, exciting action sequences, and kooky characters to make it fresh. The movie is all over the place and often confusing, but I do enjoy myself every time I watch it. Plus after all the handsome man-meat (what?) going around, I’m sure those attracted to ladies could definitely appreciate Milla Jovovich’s memorable turn as Leeloo, a smokin’ hot god with ass-kicking skills and cool hair. I know I was ok with it. Like many of Besson’s films, it stretches longer than it needs to, with so many side characters and subplots clashing together that at any given moment I forgot half of the story, but overall it’s just a fun time. Best of all you get to see Gary Oldman with actually the worst hairstyle in existence.
4/5

There you have it! This was our fifth year doing the marathon and I have to say it’s super fun every time, and it’s worth having my sleep schedule thrown out of whack for a couple of days. Until next year, fellow nerds!