26 February 2008

Things I Learned From Watching The Manitou

"So weird, so bad, that it's a beautiful thing. Don't miss it."
- Featured review by "Truman Chipotle" on IMDB

Once again, an crazy-amazing selection from the Final Girl Film Club. I lucked out and caught this On Demand, so I don't have any screen-caps to offer. That's just as well, since Spazmo turned in the most fabulous review with screen-caps of just about anything you could want to see!

Having recently lived near Manatee County, Florida, this was my first subliminal thought as I glimpsed the title of this month's selection:

But seeing as how manatees are herbivores, that probably wouldn't have made for the best horror movie.

I looked at the cards with my usual elaborate concentration. I knew as much about the Tarot as anybody did who had taken the trouble to read Tarot Made Easy, but it was the style that carried it off. If you want to be a mystic, which is actually easier than being an advertising copywriter, or a summer camp warden, or a coach-tour guide, then you have to look like a mystic.

Since I am a rather mousy thirty-two-year-old from Cleveland, Ohio, with the beginnings of a bald patch underneath my scrubby brown hair, and a fine but overlarge nose in my fine but pallid face, I took the trouble to paint my eyebrows into satanic arches, and wear an emerald satin cloak with moons and stars sewn on it, and perch a triangular green hat on my head. The hat used to have a badge on it that said Green Bay Packers, but I took it off, for obvious reasons.

I invested in incense, and a few leather-bound copies of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and a beaten-up old skull from a secondhand store in the Village, and then I placed an advertisement in the newspapers which read: "The Incredible Erskine -- Fortunes Read, Future Foretold, Your Fate Revealed."

Within a couple of months, I was handling more business than I knew what to do with, and for the first time in my life I was able to afford a new Mercury Cougar and a quad stereo with earphones to match. But, as I say, it wasn't easy. The constant tide of middle-aged ladies who came simpering into my apartment, dying to hear what was going to happen in their tedious middle-aged lives, was almost enough to drown me forever in the well of human despair.

I was just going to the icebox to fetch myself a can of beer when the telephone rang. I tucked the receiver under my chin, and opened up the beer as I talked. The voice on the other end was female (of course) and nervous (of course). Only nervous females sought the services of a man like The Incredible Erskine.

"Mr. Erskine?"

"Erskine's the name, fortune-telling's the game."

"Mr. Erskine, I wonder if I could come round and see you."

"Of course, of course. The fee is twenty-five dollars for your ordinary glimpse into the immediate future, thirty dollars for a year's forecast, fifty dollars for a lifetime review."

"I just want to know what's going to happen tomorrow." The voice sounded young, and very worried. I took a quick mental guess at a pregnant and abandoned secretary.

"Well, madam, that's my line. What time do you want to come?"

"Around nine? Is that too late?"

"Nine is fine, and the pleasure's mine. Can I have your name please?"

"Tandy. Karen Tandy. Thank you, Mr. Erskine. I'll see you at nine."

It might seem strange to you that an intelligent girl like Karen Tandy should seek help from a terrible quack like me, but until you've been dabbling in clairvoyance for quite a while, you don't realize how vulnerable people feel when they're threatened by things they don't understand.

- Excerpt from The Manitou by Graham Masterton

This bit from the book makes the story sound like a lame take on a film-noir detective tale. It's cringe-inducingly bad. So, apparently in the book, Harry had never met Karen before. And the book originally had a different ending in its first release. It seems any conclusions drawn from the movie as to the moral of the story would not be what the author intended.

Things I Learned:

I now know that the name of the town of Manitowoc, two hours north up the shore of Lake Michigan, means "Spirit Wood". This in turn led me to the realization that (save for the cable-access show in Aurora), I am practically the female incarnation of Wayne of Wayne's World.

If you're like me, you'll know what I mean: I've seen hundreds more movies than anyone I've met, but my viewing experience is shamefully lacking compared to some of the people I find online. I've been trying to study all the films I see to see how they are related to others I may or may not have seen yet, to try to build a sort of framework to fill in with more movies as I watch them. Here are some things I've sorted out related to The Manitou, which many of you will know, but some of you may not...

Seeing John Singing Rock for the first time, I had the impression he wasn't actually Native American, and I wondered if he might be Iron Eyes Cody, the crying Indian from the anti-pollution PSAs of the 70s who was outed as Sicilian on the Columbus Day episode of The Sopranos. Turns out Michael Ansara isn't Native American or Sicilian, but of Egyptian descent. Having never seen any of the TV Westerns, I'd only heard of his popular role as "Cochise" of the Broken Arrow television series. He has since appeared in a wide variety of television programs. His appearance in The Manitou came a few years after his divorce from Barbara Eden of I Dream Of Jeannie. Lately, he has voiced the role of Mr. Freeze in several animated productions of Batman.

Burgess Meredith played The Penguin on the Batman TV series. Most people will recognize him from his roles in the Rocky and Grumpy Old Men movies.

The actresses who played Harry's first two clients, Mrs. Winconis and Mrs. Herz, were both on the cast of Psycho. Jeanette Nolan was the voice of Norman Bates' mother (nothing like the voice she uses in this film), and Lurene Tuttle was the sheriff's wife, Eliza Chambers: "I helped Norman pick out the dress she was buried in. Periwinkle blue."

Ann Sothern (who played Mrs. Karmann, Karen's aunt) had a long career in both television & film, including her series of Maisie movies. She made television history as the first woman with a job on her series Private Secretary. She previously appeared in two other horror films: Lady In A Cage (1964) and The Killing Kind (1973). Surprisingly, these look pretty raw.

Susan Strasberg (who plays Karen) is known as the daughter of Lee Strasberg of The Actors' Studio. I believe the only thing I'd ever seen her in was Psych-Out/The Trip. Horror movies she has appeared in include Scream of Fear (1961), So Evil, My Sister (1974), Bloody Birthday (1981), Sweet Sixteen (1983), and another Native American-themed film: The Returning also known as Witch Doctor (1983).

Stella Stevens was the January 1960 Playboy Playmate of the Month at the beginning of her career, and might be best known for appearing in the Elvis movie Girls! Girls! Girls! or The Nutty Professor shortly afterward. She has appeared in a crazy list of horror movies - more than enough for her own movie marathon festival! The Mad Room (1969), Arnold (1973), Wacko (1983), Monster in the Closet (1987), Mom (1990), The Terror Within 2 (1990), Little Devils: The Birth (1993), The Granny (1995), Phantasmagoria (1995), Blessed (2004) , Glass Trap (2005), plus a 1978 Aaron Spelling made-for-tv movie called Cruise Into Terror/Voyage Into Evil that sounds like an episode of The Love Boat with Satan on-board. Is there any chance at all that I will ever see it?

Of course Tony Curtis is the father of Her Royal Highness, Scream Queen Jamie Lee Curtis, which makes me loathe to make any snide remarks, but I'm afraid I must say he really seems like a pompous tool. He starred in Some Like It Hot in drag, and Spartacus, for goodness sake, but felt he had to publicly condemn Brokeback Mountain and refuse to watch it even as a voting member of the Academy. Meanwhile his daughter Jamie Lee Curtis is Jake Gyllenhaal's godmother. What the fuck is that all about, seriously? He's quoted as saying "I was 22 when I arrived in Hollywood in 1948. I had more action than Mount Vesuvius - men, women, animals! I loved it too. I participated where I wanted to and didn't where I didn't. I've always been open about it." Huh? This is really sticking in my craw more than ever now that Heath Ledger is gone and has no more career ahead of him.

I'm not sure I've ever seen him in anything besides Some Like It Hot. I'm going to catch him in The Boston Strangler (1968) this month on AMC. TMC will be playing five of his movies back-to-back on Wednesday, March 12 starting at 8 PM Eastern.

Most of these actors have also appeared in many episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents or The Twilight Zone, etc. that I am going to keep my eye out for.

At the very end of the film, they conclude with a mention of a case in Tokyo a few years prior in 1969 in which a boy was found to have a tumor containing a fetus. This condition has lately become more well-known due to the freak-show medical programs that have become so popular.

Long-distance Dedication: This song will never be the same again...

23 February 2008

Awards Season: LiLo Sweeps The Razzies

"When I look back on this last year, it’s like, what was I thinking?" the 21-year-old tells Harper's Bazaar in its March issue.

"Lohan helped the film bring home a staggering 8 Razzie Awards for all-around terribleness, tying the all-time record set by Showgirls." - Best Week Ever

Now if this news doesn't make you want to run (not walk) to rent I Know Who Killed Me, then I guess nothing will.

The Razzies taken home:

Worst Picture: I Know Who Killed Me
Worst Screenplay: I Know Who Killed Me
Worst Director:
Chris Siverston for I Know Who Killed Me
Worst Actress x2:
Lohan as twin sisters Aubrey and Dakota in I Know Who Killed Me
Worst Screen Couple:Lohan as twin sisters Aubrey and Dakota in I Know Who Killed Me
Worst Remake or Rip-off: I Know Who Killed Me
Worst Excuse for a Horror Movie: I Know Who Killed Me

Lindsay was nominated for Worst Supporting Actress as well, which she lost to Eddie Murphy. Eddie took home both the Worst Supporting Actor and Actress awards for two of his many roles in Norbit.

Endorsement: I saw it on PPV once in October and then watched it about three times and posted about it when it first came out on DVD at the end of November, and I already want to see it again. I only regret not going out of my way to see it when it was at the Brew & View. I definitely want it in my home library, and enough time has passed for plenty of used copies to offered on Amazon.

Lindsay celebrated the end of 2007 by accepting an award for her "contribution to cinema" at the 12th annual Capri Hollywood International Film Festival. And making out with every man within reach.

Here's hoping she heads off this end at the pass: Lindsay Lohan Recreates Last Nude Photo Shoot of Marilyn Monroe -- New York Magazine

I got the eBay blues...

I had my eye on an original Embassy-release VHS copy of Deadly Blessing that had finally come along with a low starting bid and wasn't attracting any attention, and I lost out at the last minute by 25 cents. :(

Winning bid: $1.91. Yeah. I don't like to enter a higher bid in the beginning, so the price doesn't get run up too early. I just like to mark my territory. About five hours out, I was checking in every half-hour or so up until about an hour and a half before the end of the auction, and I was the only bidder when I fell asleep. The next day I found that there was only one other bid that went uncontested for the rest of the remaining time. Don't you hate when that happens?!

And which one of you was it? I want to know! I challenge you to a duel!

Well, at times like these I always think, if I suddenly had the money to buy everything at once, it wouldn't be very much fun.

After scoping out the competition, however, I saw that they paid a silly price for Still Breathing starring Brendan Fraser, which now in this context sounds like a great title for a horror film, but alas it's not a horror film, and it's really not very good, although I enjoy Mr. Fraser very much. The history shows it's been selling at a rather high price consistently. I'm always falling over copies of it everywhere I go looking for other movies. I own two, that I paid a dollar each for, only because he makes a neato marionette out of soda cans at one point and I wanted to try to make one myself. The person on set who actually made the marionette in the movie actually answered my post on IMDB! Isn't it cool when that happens?!

Now those two VHS cassettes will get me an easy $20 to buy me a copy of Deadly Blessing and a few more! Thanks, BlueLeaf31!

18 February 2008

Masters of Horror: The Washingtonians

In honor of Presidents' Day, I watched The Washingtonians episode of the Masters of Horror series.

It was pretty silly.

Now, I try to abide by the Showtime At The Apollo creed of not critiquing kids. I have a feeling this little girl was only following direction and the script, but as a reviewer on Amazon put it, she'll have you rooting for the cannibals.

I always have a difficult time deciding just how much to say about a film spoiler-wise. I think the less said about this one the better, as there's not all that much to it, and those few clever little details are really the highlight of the whole film on this one. It's just kinda fun, silly, and short, on par with a made-for-tv movie on Lifetime without any known actors.

Who? This episode drove me to the web to look into what made director Peter Medak a "Master of Horror" and all I found was The Changeling which seems to be fairly popular, but not all that high on my list. And rumor has it he was replaced as the director of Cujo. I did see a movie on his resume that looks promising: The Ruling Class from 1972 described as "a comedy starring Peter O'Toole as a British nobleman who thinks he is Jesus Christ". I read Romeo Is Bleeding and I must have confused it with Romeo Must Die if I ever came across it, because if it stars Gary Oldman, I really should have seen it by now. The Masters of Horror website noted at the time he was reportedly working on a movie called Inamorate produced by Johnny Depp.

Did I say Apollo Creed? lol

17 February 2008

Double Feature: The Manitou & The Night of the Comet

"Generally acknowledged as one of the silliest horror films ever made..." ~ Robert Firsching, All Movie Guide on The Manitou

Oh my. I've read the synopsis for The Manitou and I'm not at all sure I'm ready for this jelly. With the Final Girl Film Club due date a week away, and the status still at Very Long Wait on my Blockbuster queue, I'm also not at all sure it's going to arrive in time. Turns out it's going to be on cable, as I just posted at FG:

UPDATE: I got my TV and discovered The Manitou is On Demand on digital cable here, too!

Curiously, Amazon suggests you order The Night of the Comet right along with this, as its "Better Together" up-sell suggestion. Is there a connection? Is it merely sheer awesomeness?

The Night of the Comet was one of our standard go-to VHS rentals in junior high- if we didn't find anything new to watch, we'd just rent The Night of the Comet again. Over twenty years later, I recently rented it again.

Oh, and a note to the re-releasers of Happy Birthday To Me and Eyes of a Stranger, THIS is how you re-design a DVD jacket...

Reviews to follow...

14 February 2008

I'll Be Workin' My Way Back To You, Babe

Butter my butt and call me a biscuit if this ain't the longest, most drawn-out move in history!

Well, there was that Moses thing...

It's heading into the third month, and I only just moved-in two weeks ago. I'm still without 90% of my stuff, but at least I'm here instead of there.

Actually, when I was there, I'd be driving to Daytona Beach this weekend. Here, I'm driving nowhere because there's a winter storm advisory with freezing rain. Plus, I have nothing to drive. Whose bright idea was this, anyway?

The end has to be in sight! I assure you, the very moment I can take a respite from applying and registering for stuff, I'll be back! (Hasta la vista, baby!)