Tag Archives: shitty movie of the week

Notes on Gravity

I hate space!

1. Gravity is a movie starring Sandra Bullock as an astronaut. George Clooney is also an astronaut. They don’t have sex. Their spacecraft blows up. So does the International Space Station. And the Hubble Space Telescope. Clooney dies off camera. Etc. More about this humdinger on the official page here.

2. I was never worried that Sandra Bullock wouldn’t make it–Hollywood.

3. I don’t think the experience was meant for my 17-inch TV.

4. I’m not a scientist… but I found some of the space physics to be off.

5. Sandra Bullock owes the United States, Russia and China each one spacecraft. I’m sure SpaceX can cut her a deal.

6. I wanted Sandra Bullock to be confronted by the ghost of Gus Grissom (played by Fred Ward) at the end, who tells her that she’s actually dead. “You ever read ‘Occurrence at Owk Creek Bridge‘?” Grissom asks her. “Good story. This lie you told yourself? Not so much.” He points up. “Hey, there you are burning up on reentry!” A little white streak crosses the sky. 

You’ve got it all wrong, the issue here ain’t pussy. The issue here is monkey.

Your shitty movie of the week… this week: Cape Canaveral Monsters

This movie takes me back to my childhood and our long trips to Florida to see the rockets take off from Cape Kennedy. We’d pile in the family battlewagon, wood paneling peeling on the side, and burble south on I-75 until we could smell rotting citrus.  “SEE ROCK CITY” signs dotted the highways. Maminka would turn to Tatka and say, “We should go to Rock City.”

“It’s a bunch of crap!” he’d shout, spittle flying, and nearly would crash through the barrier into the opposing lanes of traffic in his dizzying rage fit.

“But the deti want to see it!” Maminka would say. The first time, she turned around and looked pleadingly at my sister and me. We shrugged at her.

One year, Tatka gave in to her, and we drove well out of our way to see Rock City. It was a bunch of crap. “What did I say?” Tatka rumbled, in both rage and victory.

“It’s not so bad,” Maminka mumbled in defeat. But it was bad. So very, very bad.

We continued down to Florida, mostly in silence, the AM radio chirping out the hits of the day. That was the summer that Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods sang, “Billy Don’t Be a Hero.” I remember seeing them on The Sonny and Cher Variety Hour wearing gold-spangled, bell-bottomed onesies, their chest hair in full bloom.

We watched the Apollo rocket take off in a big plume of chemicals, the ground shaking, me with my plastic space helmet on, my sister listening to Bobby Sherman on her little 8 track player shaped like a bright yellow Smiley Face.

This movie brought all of that back for me. The rockets, the arroyos and sagebrush, the mountains with their secret caves… yes, all of those Florida things. “Wait,” you say, “Florida has mountains?” To which I say, “Watch this movie, stupid! You tell me!” I say this in Tatka’s voice, the voice of victory he used on those rare occasions when he was clearly right and Maminka was clearly wrong.

These two...

Sure, there are a few stretchers in this movie. It’s science fiction, dummy! One of the stretchers is that we’re about to be invaded by Absinthe Fairies who can flit into the heads of dead people and control their bodies. The Absinthe Fairies, like nearly everyone in the cast of this movie, are from a faraway planet called “New Jersey.” This “New Jersey” is led by a rage-a-holic named Chris Christie who wants revenge on earth, so he sends two incompetent Absinthe Fairies named Nadia and Herman to shoot down rockets. They take over the bodies of a bickering couple and continue the bickering. Herman’s arm keeps falling off. Chris Christie communicates with his two minions  on a radar monitor that’s been spliced with a Tesla coil. He demands frozen women. So they find a woman for him, wrap her in a space blanket, freeze her, and transport her back to New Jersey by using a bucket of bubbling chemicals from a Super Fund site. That’s how New Jerseyites get around, you know.

Other things happen. There’s a love story in here, but the acting is so wooden I couldn’t tell if they were serious or not. I’m guessing not. Also, there’s a German rocket scientist who speaks with a Yiddish accent. Back in Germany, some years before, when the Fuhrer would drop by the rocket lab, everybody would say, “Oh course he’s not Jewish mein Fuhrer! Ha, ha, ha! Silly Fuhrer!” And the Fuhrer would say, “I want to see a foreskin on that rocket!” Ja wohl!

Senile, stroked-out Ike was still in the White House, fingering his golf clubs, when this movie came out. I can see him watching this movie in a private showing, while his vice president sat beside him asking, “Are you still alive Mr. President? Blink twice for no!”

“Shut up, Dick! Or you’ll get my putter up your ass!” says the still feisty Commander-in-Chief. “Say, Dick. How many World Wars do you think Adlai Stevenson won?”

“None, sir!” Nixon barks out.

“You are correct!” Ike says, and then passes into a coma for ten to fifteen minutes. He comes out of it just as Nixon is prying the nuclear football out of the grip of the Navy lieutenant commander on whose wrist it is handcuffed. “Put that down, Dick! Catch me up on this movie!”

“Well, sir, the local real estate agent just dressed up like Elmer Fudd. I believe he wants to hunt down those Absinthe Fairies from New Jersey as if they’re wascally wabbits!”

“Or like they’re microfilm in a pumpkin… right, Dick?”

“Hah, agh, agh, hah!” Nixon goes, in his best approximation of a laugh. Or maybe he’s just choking on his own bile.

Instant vacation to “Florida”: http://www.amazon.com/Cape-Canaveral-Monsters-Scott-Peters/dp/B009W4AQQ8

Your shitty free movie of the week… this week: Mr. Mike's Mondo Video

Mr. Mike

Before his brain exploded in the mid-1990’s, Michael O’Donoghue was one of the greatest writers of pitch black humor in this country. He wrote some of the best sketches in Saturday Night Live’s early history, including this sketch that asks the age-old question, “What if Superman ended up in Nazi Germany instead of America?”

As you may imagine, his vision probably didn’t always align with the vision of NBC, so a lot of his sketches did not end up on the show. Where some of the best of the rejected sketches ended up was this 90-minute special, which never ran on NBC. Instead, it ended up at the midnight movies… where a young me saw it. There were about ten other O’Donoghue diehards sitting with me in there. So much doomed laughter. Ah… warm memories. When Mr. Mike’s Mondo Video came out on VHS, I bought a copy, and wore it out. Now it’s on YouTube, where anyone can watch these little bits of pure genius.

Mondo, for those of you not familiar with the term, is an exploitation documentary. For an example, see my review of Primitive London.

My favorite moment… “Coming up next… Japanese girls bathing in dolphin blood!” It’s a movie in which women shoot down planes with pointy bras, people have ecstatic visions of Jack Lord, and cats are chucked into a swimming pool. The musical guests are none other than Sid Vicious, Root Boy Slim, and Klaus Nomi.

As Mr. Mike himself said in a Spin magazine column right before his brain went kablooey: “I don’t think of myself as just another writer. I see myself more as an Instrument of Destiny with a clear moral imperative to set the world straight on a few things. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not claiming that I’m right and that everyone else is wrong. All I’m saying is when the Angel of the Lord appeared to me and allowed me to read certain key passages from The Book of Life, it gave me an ‘overview’ that others may not have. Call it ‘Wisdom’ or ‘Truth’ or a ‘Mandate from God,’ I don’t care. I prefer to consider it ‘one man’s opinion’ and let it go at that.”

If you think this world is a Wonderful Place Filled with Hugs and Love and Puppies Licking Ice Cream Cones, don’t go here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTmN3N5v0W4

But if you’re like me, and see this world as the bleak fucking hellhole that it actually is, only Mr. Mike can make you laugh until you vomit and vomit some more, until you dry heave boiling black bile.

For a contemporary master of black humor, visit with our master of ceremonies here on ParagraphLine.com, Mr. Jon Konrath by buying his new book Atmospheres.

Love you all bunches! Your pal, Jan (pronounced “Yawn,” you heathens!).

Your shitty free movie of the week… this week: Forced Landing

Arnold Ziffel takes in Forced Landing.

Forced Landing (1941)

Previous to our involvement in the Second World War, the islands of the Pacific Ocean seemed to us a faraway place filled with hilariously foreign people with inscrutable accents. Maybe they were Mexicans. Or possibly they were from Latvia. All that we know is that their police force dressed and acted like Barney Fife.

Into this milieu is thrust a Gabor sister, probably the one from Green Acres, and an American Jerk who can fly airplanes. There’s a revolutionary who is possibly the Frito Bandito. And there are shipments of gold (gold I tells ya!) that go missing, possibly because of a Colonel who is the Gabor sister’s boyfriend (until the American Jerk wins her away from him because… He’s American, damn it!).

Is this a must watch? Fuck no! But it’s free!

Arnold Ziffel gives it two hooves up. Or possibly four, because he’s on his back, passed out from corn liquor.

Your shitty movie of the week… this week: Star Trek Into Darkness

I am Kirock!
I’ll confess: I always wanted to be Kirk. When the neighborhood kids were playing Star Trek—this is back in the 1970’s, mind you, before the advent of Star Trek: The Next Generation (a.k.a. Star Trek: Earl Grey Hot)—I actively stumped for the position of being Kirk. I would emote, and emote well. “Spock!” I’d act-shout, dropping to my knees, my hands outstretched before me, beseechingly. “Sp-ahhhhh-ck!” But no one wanted the weird ethnic kid to be Kirk, the all-American all-man from Iowa (played by a Jew from Canada). So I ended up being McCoy. I was an okay McCoy. “I’m a doctor, not a small business owner from Centralia, Illinois!” But still…

I liked the first iteration of the JJ Abrams Star Trek reboot. It was okay. Not great, but okay. I waited patiently for the next episode.

Imagine, if you will, everything you loved about Star Trek, the real Star Trek. Now imagine it being fed to the Cloverfield monster and shit out all over the screen in a glowing white ball that resembles an Apple Store, where all the low-paid pricks derisively snort at you for being a weird middle-aged ethnic guy wearing the Wrong Clothes. Imagine Khan, the wonderful Corinthian-leather-clad Ricardo Montalban, being transformed into the guy from PBS’s Sherlock. Now imagine Spock shouting out “Khan!” instead of Kirk. Imagine that Federation officers (Peter “RoboCop” Weller, for instance) are all dressed up like the officers from the Imperial Fleet from the original Star Wars movies. Imagine Kirk transforming into a bro. You know: The kind of bro who calls you “bro,” bro. High five! Oh, shit, you’ve imagined a horrible movie! And that movie is named Star Trek Into Darkness.

I stopped wanting to be Kirk many years ago. I grew up, went to college, got a job, moved out of my parents’ basement, lost my job, moved back into my parents’ basement, gained 50 pounds, became a vegan, lost 50 pounds, got another job, moved out of my parents’ basement again, got married, got divorced, moved back into my parents’ basement. You know: Lived. My childhood memories became sweetened by comparison with real adult life. I go to movies like Star Trek to relive those faked-up memories—to enjoy an imagined past that didn’t involve my pants being yanked down to my ankles by bros and all the girls laughing and pointing. We all have our own bullshit that we tell ourselves to keep ourselves sane. We want to be Kirk even after we stop wanting to be Kirk. And then Kirk is transformed into the bro who pulled your pants down around your ankles. High five!

I looked into my bank account, discovered a few dollars lurking there, and wandered off to the movies last summer expecting to be entertained. Instead I got Bro-Kirk (high five!), overly emotive Spock, Rule Britannia Khan, and a “Save the Cat” plot that was so predictable once it got going that I nearly fell asleep. I would have, too, but the movie had more explosions than an Afghan wedding party encircled by a fleet of drones. Not to mention the never-ending number of lens flares. It was like having a strobe light flashing into my retinas. I may still have lens flare ghosts dancing in there. Or maybe I need cataract surgery. I can’t tell anymore.

There will be no link to this film in this report, by the way. You have to pay for it, or steal it online. I won’t condone theft. And there is no way that this movie is worth paying for.

I once stood up during a preview of one of the Transformers movies and shouted, “Fuck you, Michael Bay!” and received a round of applause from the audience. At the end of Star Trek Into Darkness, I delivered the same salute to JJ Abrams, and was shushed. Ah, what the fuck. You goddamned people.

Good luck with fucking up Star Wars, JJ. There’s another childhood memory you can feed to the Cloverfield monster. Hey, Hong Kong Phooey is still available. Did you hear that, JJ? You can fuck that up, too!

Your shitty movie of the week… this week Help! …

Don't smoke dope, kids.
I have two words to say to anyone who doesn’t like the Beatles: Fuck you.

That said, this movie is… wow, awful. And yet hilarious. And awful. It’s like a long episode of the 1960’s version of Batman, without Adam West, or a script that makes any sense. At least we get to watch the Beatles caper around on vacation in the Alps and in the Bahamas. And there’s the incredible music.

There’s a plot, I suppose. It has to do with an eastern cult who sacrifice people who wear a ring with a red glass golf ball on it to the goddess Kaili. Someone sent Ringo the ring, he can’t get it off, therefore he must be sacrificed.

So the Kaili cult chases the Bee-AT-Tills around, led by Leo “Number 2/Rumpole” McKern, a rotund, bug-eyed Australian putting on a south Asian accent.

Also chasing them is Victor Spinetti, a scientist whose British-made contraptions keep breaking down, and his henchman, Roy Kinnear. Eagle-eyed viewers will remember Spinetti from the first Beatles movie, A Hard Day’s Night. You know: the good Beatles movie.

There are a few nice moments in this one though, to be fair.

Two old ladies are watching the Beatles enter their attached-on-the-inside homes. One old lady has to encourage the other to wave at them because they’re such nice boys. “Fame hasn’t changed them.” Inside, the Beatles’ home is one long bizarre flat filled with gewgaws, vending machines, a grass lawn that is being tended by a man using chattering false teeth, rotating book shelves, and so on. It’s delightful to look at.

John and Ringo are in an elevator:
Ringo: What was it that first attracted you to me?
John: Well, you’re very polite, aren’t you?

The Beatles are having a two lagers and lime plus two lagers and lime in a pub:
George: I’m always getting winked at these days. It used to be you didn’t it Paul?

The Beatles were all (infamously) stoned during the making of the movie, and Richard Lester, the director, didn’t bother to tell them what the damn thing was about either, so all their performances were… what’s lazier than “mailed in”?

The Monkees TV show was based on this nonsense. So there’s another entertainment vehicle with incredible music, and shitty everything else.

With my sluggish Internet connection, it took me two hours, and several restarts, to download this movie. (It’s 1.3 gigs.) And I didn’t even bother to get it in HD. It was 12 bucks from iTunes. Was it worth it? Sure, I’ll  fast forward to all the music videos next time I watch it. They may have been bad vaudevillians, but the Beatles made some of the greatest music ever.


Your shitty movie of the week…this week Primitive London

Ah, the exploitation documentary! When I was in high school, Faces of Death was all the rage. It was mostly fake home movies of people being mauled by bears, eaten by alligators,  highway death, and the like. But Primitive London is the progenitor of all those later movies. It is the movie that is shocked! (Shocked! I tell you!) by all the shocking things it is showing you.

Primitive London was shot in the mid-1960’s in, where else, London. Swinging London. Which was full of swingers, and such. We see strippers (with pasties and g-strings), a live birth, filthy lazy Beatniks, Mods and Rockers, a chiropodist performing a corn removal with a scalpel, a dramatization of a key party (ask your parents, kids), a coffee commercial voiceover, the industrial mass murder of chickens, more strippers in pasties and g-strings (and without)… and THE FINAL DEGRADATION OF LOVE… THE SEX LOTTERY.
Chicken Murder! Chicken Murder! Chicken Murder!
Chicken murder!

I had no idea my parents’ generation was so full of sleazy degenerates. Kind of warms my heart thinking of them like this. I suppose after the carnage of two World Wars and with a looming nuclear war, watching something like this might seem like a good idea. Anything that would take your mind off of being incinerated by a bourbon-pickled Lyndon Baines Johnson grabbing the nuclear football out of the hands of his military attaché, pushing the candy-colored button inside while shouting, “Fucking commies! You die now!” would seem like a good idea, I guess.

So do I recommend this movie? Oh God no. It’s a piece of crap. But it is also a time capsule, which will make it somewhat fascinating to people like… I don’t know. You? So, okay, here you go. Click away Captain Clickie:


Your shitty movie of the week… this week A Band Called Death

The visionary. And the two other guys.
A Band Called Death is a documentary about the three Hackney brothers who form a punk band in Detroit in the 1970’s. One of them, David, is a visionary. A genius. The other two are competent musicians who are along for the ride, and don’t understand David’s vision. Long story short: David wills them into a legendary recording studio, makes a brilliant album which is then shunned by everyone in the recording industry because they don’t like the name of the band: Death. David does not fold. Twenty years later, before he dies, he hands off the master tapes to one of his brothers and tells him that people will demand to hear the record, but only after his death. He was right.

A Band Called Death was fine while it talked about the brother who had the vision. But once it was down to the two surviving dullard-Jesus-loving brothers, and the kids, it got to be a drag. By the end, while the hipsters were doing their “I was into them before you” dance, I just wanted to stick a gun in my mouth.

The main thing I got out of this documentary (in the last third) was that fame starts with one well-connected hipster (a sort of Patient Zero) who has decided that your work is so rare that you are worthy of his hipster attention. The hipster gushes on a blog over how rare it is and how only he appreciates it, and puts your work up on E-Bay for some ridiculous amount of money, which will make other douchey hipsters stand up and take notice. The fame then spreads like a plague until you have Kid Rock on camera squawking about you. The only thing you can do on your end is have an “unwavering faith” as one of the surviving Hackney brothers said of his brother “in what you are doing.”

No matter how much Indian food I eat, or post-rock I listen to, or foreign films I enjoy, I’ll never be a part of the ruling elite. Is there a better word than “hipster” for a rich-kid parasite/dilettante? I don’t know. They don’t create… they latch on to people who do, and then claim them like they own them. That’s what made my teeth grind in the last third of A Band Called Death. David Hackney was a fucking genius. But first he needed to be validated by the ruling class before anyone could deign to take him seriously, and it helped that he died first. Helps with the exclusivity part of it that Hackney, by being dead, has a limited output of art, and therefore his work is essentially rare. Ah, fuck it.

One other irritating thing about this movie: The same still photos were used over and over and over, with the same bullshit special effect of pulling one of the people out of the picture and zooming him away from the others. Is this something taught in MFA in Documentary Making programs? I don’t know. I guess that a still photo is not enough visual stimulation for our current crop of Young Adults. Whatever.

[Aside from your trusty editor JK: blame Ken fucking Burns for that photo shit.]

But now that Death is famous, the rich kid parasites can move on to their next rare gem “discovery.” We await your next ruling breathlessly, overlords!


Your shitty free movie of the week… this week: Invasion Of The Bee Girls (1973)


Hey, fellas! Remember when you were 13 years old and the scariest/most exciting thing in the world was the prospect of sexual intercourse? Of course you do. Invasion of the Bee Girls captures exactly that, though it seems that the entire male population of the United States was composed of men who were mentally 13-year-old boys at that time. Sex was new, exciting and scary in the early 1970’s. Women were all liberated and such. They were revealed to have actual human appetites, which freaked men the fuck out. Gone was the cocky swagger of the Sean Connery/James Bond male. Women, it seemed, were suddenly in the driver’s seat.

Invasion of the Bee Girls was written by Nicholas Meyer, who you may remember wrote some of the better Star Trek movies from the 1980’s, including The Wrath of Khan.

In this soft-core porn flick, women are lured into a hot female scientist’s lab and transformed into Bee Girls, who savagely love men to death. Scientist Anitra Ford uses radiation, of course, because that was still scary and new then (instead of scary and old as it is now). Oh, and the process of bee-ifcation was controlled by a ‘computer’ stolen off the set of Irwin Allen’s The Time Tunnel.

Inexplicably, the State Department takes an interest. Maybe Henry Kissinger was the one funding the research? “Vee need zexy killer vimen!” Who knows? Dr. Kissinger sends his best man into the fray, Neil Agar, who is played by William Smith, a familiar face to anyone who watched TV from the 1960’s to the 1980’s… In my memory he mostly played hoodlums and cowpokes, and was Kimo on the last season of Hawaii Five-O, the real Hawaii Five-O, mind you, the one that starred Jack Lord’s hair.

The other cop on the scene was played by Cliff Osmond (Captain Peters), yet another character actor who seemingly always got stuck with the part of the heavy back in the 1960’s and ’70’s. Nice to see these two actors have the opportunity to play good guys for once.

The Bee Girls are all monotone-voiced centerfold women who, during the course of the movie, strip naked and kill men using the weapon of overwhelming sexual appetite. Ten years later, after the 1970’s ran its sexy-sexy course, I came of age just in time for sexual liberation (and pleasure of all kinds) to ignominiously end with the advent of super herpes, AIDS and Nancy Reagan’s face glaring at me from the TV, squawking out, “Just Say No.” Yes… no. Dear God, no. One needed only to recall Nancy Reagan’s face to say no.

Is there anything else to this movie? Nipples, butts, blacked-out eyes. That’s about it. Enjoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUHK8E9Q8MM

Your shitty movie of the week… This week: Drinking Buddies

First off… This isn’t a shitty movie. It’s pretty fucking good.  I like Olivia Wilde. She has a  face like a cat. And she has this fierce sort of intelligence that I admire in a woman. I think I could be her friend. 

That’s what this movie is about, ultimately. Can a man just be friends with a woman? The movie says yes, but you have to get past all the sex first, decide that you are friends, and move forward from there.

The guy from Office Space, Ron Livingston, plays Wilde’s love interest. He’s kind of a douche. And Anna Kendrick is the love interest for Jake Johnson, the guy from that very annoying sitcom starring Zooey Deschanel that will go unnamed here.

Anna Kendrick—there’s no way I’d pick her over Olivia Wilde. On the other hand, would you want to mess up a perfect friendship? Friendships like the one that Wilde and Johnson have in this movie are rare. I’ve only had a few in my life. And nothing can ruin a friendship more than sex. I once married a friend—someone I knew from work, and it fucked up both our lives. We’ll probably never speak again. We should have left it at friendship, but men and women can’t leave well enough alone. We want something more, always, and there you are, having sex with a friend, getting married, and it burns everything you once had to the ground and creates something new, something you both have to live with. Or not. I ended up walking away. I’m pretty sure my ex hates me.

I liked this movie. I’m not a fan of most of these so-called mumblecore movies. They are improvised horseshit. Nothing happens in them. But not this one. It got to me.

This movie is set in Chicago, during the summer, and I’m sitting here in the Midwest, and this has to be the shittiest, coldest, snowiest winter in a long time, so it allows me to imagine the world being warm.

The two leads, Wilde and Johnson, work in a brewery together. It’s Revolution Brewing, which is a real Chicago brewery, by the way, and they make kick-ass beer. There is a lot of beer drinking involved. I am all for beer drinking. I swilled a few during the movie.

I once had a friend who worked for me. She was intelligent, funny, a real joy to talk to. My marriage was falling apart, and she stepped forward like some sort of miracle and went from being a co-worker to being an incredible friend. She ended up moving away, and we write occasionally, but I miss her. I miss that deep connection we had. We had some epic, seven-hour-long conversations, drinking beer, trading hugs, bullshitting and not-bullshitting. She always said the right things. We got each other. I fucked it up by asking her to be my girlfriend when I knew she was moving away.

That’s what this movie gets. You gotta enjoy the friendship, and not yearn for more. To yearn for more is to yearn to fuck things up, to make your friendship into something it is not. I won’t do the spoiler thing and tell you how the movie ends. You’ll have to see it for yourself.