Forgotten Flix

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Movie Essays

Take that Look off your Face! (aka The Worst “O” Faces in Cinema)

office-space-05_lby Maggie Kruger

Bethany: What’s he like?

Metatron: God? Lonely. But funny. He’s got a great sense of humour. Take sex for example. There’s nothing funnier than the ridiculous faces you people make mid-coitus.

– Dogma, 1999, dir. Kevin Smith

I should give you a bit of background – a few years back I was quasi-editor of the movie pages for a (sadly now-defunct) website called The Mucky Book Club. My role was to review films based on their (ahem) muckiness, and I would also on occasion write the odd longer piece on how the beast with two backs was portrayed on film. God only knows what Big Brother (and my mum) would make of my browser history and Netflix queue around that time.

So one evening, there I sat, idly fast forwarding my way through ‘Color of Night’, the subpar Bruce Willis thriller described by a lads mags as having  “the Hottest Sex Scene ever committed to celluloid”… What follows is a (slightly edited) version of the blog post that followed…

In the name of research last night, I was surfing through Netflix, looking for movies with mucky bits that I could bring to you, dear Reader. Under the category of ‘steamy thrillers’ I discovered Color of Night, starring Bruce Willis and Jane March. Whilst I’m a bit of a Bruce fan (conveniently forgetting his ill-advised pop career in the 1980s), I’d never seen this film but remembered it got a bit of stick  on its initial release for having far too much sex in it – which obviously makes it perfect for the MBC!

As I hit play I opened up Wikipedia for the synopsis which looked a bit dull, although under critical reception I see a lad’s mag said it had the sexiest scenes in a film ever, so for speeds sake decided to fast forward through the dull bits to see for myself what those sexy sexy sex scenes were like.

Oh my days.

OK, so the shagging itself is uneventful (swimming pool, shower, kitchen table, blah blah), and less prolific than you’d expect for all the fuss that was made about it. But a fleeting moment disturbed me. Made me shriek and hide my face in a pillow.

Willis

Just above this sentence. That’s Bruce Willis’ Sex Face.

I’m all for realistically depicted sex, I really am. But let’s be honest, is there a one of us out there who hasn’t looked up, down or around mid-wriggle and wondered what on earth THAT face is all about?

Which led me on a marathon 2 hour journey on the interwebs finding a real treat for you: The worst sex faces in Hollywood! Here’s what I came up with.

Douglas

Michael Douglas (Basic Instinct): Sex scene? Or prostate examination?

McLachlan

Kyle McLachlan (Showgirls): Has just come in his pants, or shat in them. Not sure which.

 Dillon

Matt Dillon (Wild Things): I’ve never had someone do an Elvis impression when he’s in bed with me, but I can’t imagine it’s especially hot.

 Stallone

Sly Stallone (Demolition Man): He’s either doing it, or trying to work out what 23 x 945 is.

 Kline

Kevin Kline (A Fish Called Wanda): I know, I know – not serious… We’ve all been there though (haven’t we? Oh god, please tell me we’ve all been there!)

Can you think of any others? Please, feel free to share in the Rogue’s Gallery of Terrible Sex Faces!

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When Casting Goes Wrong… Or Does It?

Affleck1by Maggie Kruger

Poor Ben Affleck. There he is, snagging the most coveted role in Hollywood, and there’s 99.9% of the interwebs being mean to him.

Personally I think the most worrying thing about him playing Batman is less to do with his acting, more to do with Zach Snyder’s explode-by-numbers school of directing.

Anyway, these past few days I’ve had one or two….heated, shall we say…. discussions about his casting.

I maintain that Affleck’s a good enough actor to give us a convincing Caped Crusader; others hold up Daredevil as the prime example of why he’ll balls it up (you know who you are).

It got me to thinking, though, about other unexpected casting choices and whether or not they succeeded. Here are some of my favourites.

tom-cruise-lestatWee Tommy O’Cruise – Interview With The Vampire (1994)

I’ve written about this before – when they announced that Tom Cruise was going to play Lestat, the amoral, raunchy, sexually ambiguous vampire, Anne Rice (Lestat’s creator) threw her toys out of the cot:

“I was particularly stunned by the casting of [Tom] Cruise, who is no more my Vampire Lestat than Edward G. Robinson is Rhett Butler. ”

She did a superb 180 on this (perhaps persuaded by the studio) when the movie released, saying he was the best thing since sliced Brad Pitt. For my money I think Cruise is great in this movie: naughty, funny and not in it for about half of the running time.

Honorable mention should go here to the casting of Wee Tommy as Jack Reacher. That’s Lee Child’s Jack Reacher. You know, the character who is 6 foot 5 inches tall. Maybe the casting director was number dyslexic and inverted the numbers by mistake…?

Idris Elba – Thor (2011)

idris-elba-thorFanboys went to Crazytown when it was announced that Elba had been cast as Heimdal, Gatekeeper of Asgard, because… well, let’s just say there’s a certain scene in Lethal Weapon 2 that sums it up perfectly.

As it was, Elba picked up the baton and ran as far away as possible with the part, and most people agree that he is a very brilliant thing in a movie packed with brilliant things (Chris Hemsworth’s biceps, I’m looking at you). As Sir Ken himself said:

“Idris Elba is a fantastic actor – we were lucky to get him. He provides all the characteristics we need from Asgard’s gatekeeper, the man who says, “Thou shalt not pass”. When Idris Elba says that, you know you’re gonna have a problem. He’s smart, intelligent, handsome and an absolute joy to work with. If you have a chance to have a great actor in the part, everything else is irrelevant.

“If you’re going to say the colour of his skin matters in a story like this, look at 50 years of Thor comics to see how many ways great artists have bent alleged ‘rules’. Look at the Norse myths to see the way they confounded and contradicted themselves. That whole ‘controversy’ was a surprising – and daft – moment.”

If Branagh says it’s a daft thing to get bent out of shape about, then it probably is.

The-Godfather--Part-III-sofia-coppola-561823_320_480Sofia Coppola – The Godfather, Part III (1990)

When it was announced that Coppola Sr had cast Coppola Jr as Mary Corleone, the screams of NEPOTISM! rang loud and clear throughout Hollywood.

Then the movie actually came out and no-one really knew what to say, mainly because the last time anyone saw a character so wooden, he was arguing with Jiminy Cricket and singing about not having any strings.

Jim Carrey – The Truman Show (1998)

carrey_truman01On the one hand, you have Peter Weir, legendary director of such classics as Gallipoli (sob); Witness and, erm, Green Card (pretend I didn’t mention that one). Aside from his overuse of Maurice Jarre synth soundtracks, the man has made some Pretty Damn Awesome movies.

On the other hand, you have Jim Carrey, who up till that point was best known for playing Ace Ventura. Sure, he could bring in the Box Office dollars, but could he do serious?

The short answer? Hells yes. The Truman Show is an amazing film, and apart from one (to my mind) misplaced scene with Carrey pulling faces in the mirror, he gives a beautifully nuanced and subtle performance.

Now people know he can do serious, Jim Carrey’s gone on to play some excellent dramatic roles, particularly in Man on the Moon and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. You can almost forgive him for Dumb and Dumber.

Almost.

Robin Williams – One Hour Photo (2002)

OneHourPhoto-3-bigAs Jim Carrey was to slapstick comedy, Robin Williams was to diabetes-inducingly saccharine family films, although he was also partial to throwing in the odd serious role and, for the most part, TOTALLY nailing it.

I love him in The Fisher King, Good Will Hunting (‘That sonofabitch stole my line!’) and The World According to Garp. Funny? Check. Dramatic? Check. Scary? Not so much.

Then I saw One Hour Photo and a) slept with a light on that night and b) switched to a digital camera. The imdb description says “An employee of a one-hour photo lab becomes obsessed with a young suburban family.”; saying much more than that would give it away.

Go find it if you haven’t seen it. You’ll never see Mork in the same way again.

Steven Seagal – Hard to Kill (1990)

Gotcha.

Mickey Rourke  – Sin City (2005)

MickeyRourkeMarvBack in 2005, Mickey Rourke was the punchline to a very bad Hollywood joke. Handsome, charismatic leading man jacks it all in to go back to boxing then ruins his face with a series of ridiculous plastic surgeries and can’t get arrested (actually he may have managed that, I’ll have to check).

Anyway, when I went to see Sin City with My Mate Terry, I was quite surprised to see Mickey Rourke in the cast, and thought he’d probably be a bit shit. After all, Mickey Rourke was a bit mental and had forgotten how to act, right?

Wrong.

His turn as Marv was possibly my favourite performance in the film (with Bruce Willis a close second, because Bruce Willis). Sad and beautifully ugly, apparently he’s returning for the sequel. Hope so.

Anyhoo, I think Ben Affleck will be a solid Batman. No-one wanted Michael Keaton to play him and he’s my favourite Dark Knight thus far.  Everyone said Heath Ledger would suck as the Joker and look at what happened there. Give Batben a chance, Internet!

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5 Movies To Watch On A Forgotten Flix(less) Wednesday

Clerks movie posterBy Maggie Kruger

Ah Wednesday.

You used to be the best day of the week: Humpday! You were almost the weekend and, more importantly, the Forgotten Flix Podcast day!

But now… there’s no podcast. And we have to wait till fracking Thursday? Where’s the fun in that?!

Truly, what a difference a day makes.

Some people (naming no names, but staring pointedly at a certain New Jersey-based artist) are having trouble coming to terms with the day change, and it occurs to me that other people might also be struggling.

So here are five movies you can watch on a Wednesday and then pretend it’s almost as good as having a new podcast episode to listen to.

1. Clerks

Two guys talk at length about obscure movies whilst a collection of oddballs harass them for kicks: How Kevin Smith had the foresight to make a filmic representation of the Forgotten Flix Facebook group I will never know.

2. The Aristocrats

Jason dropped an f-bomb the other week and I laughed for an hour afterwards.

Because I am childish and amused by swears. If you too are easily entertained by rude things, watch this: a documentary about one of the dirtiest jokes in the world.

3. Braveheart

OK, so it’s no secret that I hate Mel Gibson. It’s like… a lot. But before became the poster boy for anti-semitism, he made an Oscar-winning living by making factually inaccurate historical biopics.

Now, I’m not saying Joel and Jason are ever inaccurate, I’m just saying that, much as I shouted at the TV when I was watching Braveheart for the first time, sometimes I shout at my computer when neither of them can remember Marg Helgenberger’s name.

4. Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach

I live in London, and even when it’s delightful and sunny, it’s not bloody FLORIDA, is it?

So, every time I listen to the Podcast, I like to imagine Joel as Captain Harris, strutting along the beach with DORK written in sunbloc on his chest, and Jason as Proctor, drinking a Pina Colada that’s as big as his head.

5. Alien³

The final movie that I’m going to recommend is the one where Ripley doesn’t have any hair.

I’m not going to tell you why I’m recommending a movie where none of the characters have a single hair on their head.

I know that sounds baldly obnoxious, but you’ll just have to work it out for yourself. ;)

 

 

 

Maggie Signature

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5 Lessons Learned from Making a Zombie Movie

by Joel G. Robertson

How would one be able to view the film work you’ve done? I’m very interested in seeing it.” — Hammond

She's REALLY unhappy with her healthcare.

She's REALLY unhappy with her healthcare.

Whether he knows it or not, Hammond, long-time listener, contributor (he generously provided us with our current Movie Picks music, sans toilet flushing), and friend (for cripes sake, the dude gave me this!), gave me the little push I needed to finally expose one of my movies to the world! Plus, it’s Friday the 13th today, so it’s a good day for a little horror flick.

You see, my childhood dream was to be a movie maker, and during my teens and twenties I made a few shorts, wrote half-a-dozen screenplays, and even co-wrote and directed a feature film.

However, I also made a LOT of mistakes along the way.

So, after watching a short film I made, which was an homage to George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead called Shadows of the Dead, I’d like to share the 5 lessons I learned from making a zombie movie. But first…

Our Feature Presentation…

A few years after making Shadows of the Dead, I dusted off what was then called Terminal White (don’t ask), gave it a re-edit and a new title, and submitted it to the first Fangoria Blood Drive (2004), a national short film competition put on by Fangoria Magazine and Koch Vision.

And to my amazement, I actually won! Having grown up with Fangoria, the idea of getting a mention in their pages was enough to send my horror-lovin’ heart a flutter.

But it was even cooler when a legendary horror host, Count Gore De Vol (played by the generous and talented Dick Dyszel) offered to show it on his weekly web program, Creature Feature.

As the longest running horror host in history (even besting my childhood favorite host, Dr. Paul Bearer), having Count Gore host my little movie was humbling, to say the least. I’d like to say a special thanks to Mr. Dyszel for kindly allowing me to include his original Creature Feature presentation of Shadows of the Dead.

The following short film presentation is dedicated to Hammond for asking to see it.

And now you know who to blame. :)

 

Shadows of the Dead (Short Film, 2004)

Shadows of the Dead from Joel G. Robertson on Vimeo.

1. Prepare for your own ineptitude

There's no way that's sanitary.

There's no way that's sanitary.

I’d spent a few weeks writing this short. And another few weeks creating a detailed shooting script. I wrote out each and every shot I intended to get, and saved everything to a 3.5 inch floppy disk (they still make and sell these!?!).

Then, after arriving at the location where we were going to shoot the bulk of the movie, I realized I’d left that sacred little disk back at home… an hour-and-a-half drive away. I had no hard copy of anything I’d prepared, so I did the only thing I could do: I made it all up as I went along.

Of course, I had a foo-foo, artsy-fartsy excuse explanation for any gaps that resulted from my negligence. I’d simply tell any would be critic that I was going through my Argento phase and using “dream logic”.

And yes, some people actually bought that crap.

2. Use whatever you have available

She's a star, see? A star!

She's a star, see? A star!

We shot the majority of the short in a large warehouse and rundown, unused office building owned by a seabird sanctuary. One of the guys who ran the place was a bit odd, but he was nice enough to provide us with everything we needed to make our movie.

But one scene wasn’t working. It was the climactic scene and it needed a certain something. I was beside myself when the guy who’d been helping us had an idea. You see, he had this vulture with a dead eye, an evil eye if you will. And damn, was he proud of that bird!

He told us she (I’m guessing it was a lady bird) should be in pictures, see? She’s got tons of talent, see? You just GOTTA put her in your movie, see? What could I say, no? Sure the casting of his vulture reeked of Hollywood-like “special favors” and nepotism, but in the end it worked out.

And while I’m not sure the vulture added that missing ingredient (perhaps better writing and a budget would have helped), it sure was a creepy-ass bird… and one helluva actress!

3. Put yourself in your actor’s shoes restraints

Wait! What did he just say?

Wait! What did he just say?

You know what actors really hate?

They hate when their hands are pulled high above their head, wrists bound together with thick rope, duct tape stretched over their mouths, and then staying like that for 20 – 30 minutes straight. And while our lead actor never said so, I’m sure he hated it. But he never complained. The pros never do.

But you want to know what they hate even more than that?

They really (and I mean really, REALLY) hate it when, while they’re dangling there like a human pinata, waiting on the director (that’s me) to say “action,” they come to the unpleasant realization that said director (yep, still me) is chatting with a random crew member about… and this is not a joke… Dawn Wells.

Yep, Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island.

I’m not saying an actor wouldn’t be pissed if you left them hanging while you talked about Ginger… but Mary Ann?

Please.

4. Beg Ask for forgiveness

Hurry up! The owner's coming!

Hurry up! The owner's coming!

We needed a cool, exterior location, so we improvised. All the backroad/driving scenes were done in the final hours of our shoot. But we had a problem. Several actually. Our lead actor was heading back to L.A. and we were running out of daylight. So, we drove around central Florida with that golden clock ticking away in the sky until we came across the dirt road featured in the movie.

Since the road ran alongside a major interstate, we assumed it was an access road. It wasn’t.

We’d already shot the majority of the footage on the road and the daylight was almost completely gone when a large, four-door F-350 came rolling up. It was the owner of the orange grove we were apparently trespassing in. If I’d had a lump of coal on me, I’m pretty sure I could have created a rectal diamond, a la Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Instead, I just stuttered and stammered my way through an explanation of why were on this man’s property.

Fortunately for us, he bought it.

However, this had less to do with any great negotiating skills on my part, but was more likely because the guy felt bad (or just embarrassed) for me as I stood there weeping and begging, clutching my camcorder like a teddy bear as I wet myself.

5. Don’t be an uptight “Auteur”

Peek-a-baby!

Peek-a-baby!

This was my biggest mistake.

On most of the movies I worked on, rather than simply enjoying myself, I spent most of my time worrying about little “triffles” that didn’t matter. I seldom relaxed and enjoyed the process. I was too caught up in what other people “might think” or how it was all going to “turn out” when it was done.

Well, as it turns out none of that crap mattered. It didn’t matter then and it certainly doesn’t matter now. All that really mattered was the experience of working with generous, kind people in an atmosphere of creativity and collaboration.

At that time, I made it all about me. I was, after all, the “auteur” and according to that over-used little theory my “vision” was all that mattered.

Man, was I ever wrong.

Truth is, if I ever had a vision to begin with (and it’s doubtful that I did), it could never come to life without the help, hard work and dedication of all the people who made the movie with me.

So, if you’re an aspiring film maker, writer, musician, or artist of any stripe, please know that no matter how bad you think you want to “make it,” in the end it’s only the relationships you’ve developed and the way you treat others that matters.

Loosen up, have fun, and just remember you ain’t curing cancer. And, hell, even if you are, I’m sure you could have fun with that too.

Leave a comment below and tell me about lessons you learned while pursuing your dreams or passions!

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When I Grow Up I’m Going to be a Vampire

Bela Lugosi in 1931's Draculaby Kimster

With Halloween coming up, I guess it only makes sense that I have vampires on my zombie-free brain. As I was eating my lunch today, I realized that vampires and chips are very much alike in that you can’t have just one. For decades the lore of vampires in film has varied and changed so dramatically from their vulnerabilities to style, intelligence, and even nutritional intake.

The original 1931 Dracula starring Bela Lugosi shows us where vampires first got their reputation for being the horror creatures you just really did not want to mess with. He was sophisticated and charming, yet terrifying, and made elongated vowel sounds the coolest thing since sliced bread.

In years since, vampires have gradually taken on a more modern look and appeal when left up to the creative direction of writers and producers. Take 1987’s The Lost Boys. Now here were some vampires who could terrorize you one minute, and then stand in for Bon Jovi the next; total rock star vampires.

Uhm, that's Salma Hayek (in From Dusk Till Dawn)?!?

Uhm, that's Salma Hayek (in From Dusk Till Dawn)?!?

In 1996, From Dusk Till Dawn showed us a tattooed George Clooney fresh from the ER, along with vampires that looked like they had been hanging out at the truck stop a little too long. Chainsaw powered stakes, crossbows, and water guns filled with holy water took this action vampire flick to a whole new level of semi-cheesy awesomeness. Did I mention the rat-Chihuahua-vampire hybrid thing? No? Well you should probably see that for yourself…

The late 1990’s presented us with a version of vampires who care. Blade was a hybrid vampire whose mother was attacked and bitten by a vampire while giving birth. Blade grows up to become a hunter of vampire baddies who, unlike Blade, are susceptible to garlic, sunlight, and silver.

If you’ve ever found yourself asking “what would Buffy do?” then you probably know about Angel, the vampire with a soul. While vulnerable to sunlight, crosses, stakes, garlic, and holy water, Angel, cursed with a soul by Gypsies, opted to help the helpless and solely drink animal blood. He even saved the world a couple times to boot.

The year 2000 brought us the ‘emo-vamp’. Donning all black and damp tendrils, Gerard Butler starred as the titular character in

Well... maybe just a nibble! (from Dracula 2000)

Well... maybe just a nibble! (from Dracula 2000)

Dracula 2000 as a more modern version who looked, more than anything, in need of a hug. 2007 brought us back to a fierce, barbaric dynamic of vampires in 30 Days of Night. What could be more frightening than being secluded in an Alaskan town with super strong vampires where the main weapon source, the sun, is on vacation for an entire month?

Most recently, the main vampires circulating throughout the media are in Twilight and True Blood. Both are dominating television, film, and literary markets, but are vastly different in terms of content. Twilight is a sappy, sweet take on vampires, for young adults, where the vampires are bedazzled in the sunlight and opt to go with the corn-on-the-cob approach to biting their victims.

HBO’s hit series True Blood is more mature and graphic in nature with vampires vulnerable to silver, the sun, a stake to the heart, and requiring an invitation for entrance into one’s home. They have also revealed themselves within society and when they’re not lusting after humans, are typically drinking synthetic Tru Blood.

While dozens of versions have been created, the original 1931 Dracula, for me, will always hold the title of ‘top-dog’ of vampires. How many guys do you know can rock a permanently popped collar and turn into a bat? Exactly.

Kimster

Kimster

 

Kimster is a Modern dancer, model, college tutor, bookworm, and lover of movies that make you want to run down the street shouting their titles.

When she’s not watching movies, or saving the world one runway and college essay at a time, she’s often blogging about said films so they get the fan base they deserve.

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How To Get Yourself in the Cinematic Mood (for a Royal Wedding)

The Queen by Maggie Kruger

On April 29th,=, the world and its gerbil is going to turn its attention to Ye Olde London Towne, to witness our Future King marrying Kate Middleton.  What with the success of The King’s Speech at the Oscars in February and now all of the UK getting an extra day off work so we can watch the ceremony, it’s been quite a year for the Royal Family of Great Britain.

If I’m absolutely honest I’m not all that excited about it – I reached Royal Wedding saturation point about 3 months ago – but my friends and I will be getting together to watch the ceremony and drink champagne nonetheless.

Any excuse, after all.

I’m thinking I should get myself in the mood though: after all itis a historic occasion.  So this weekend I propose to climb aboard the Royal Express, please join me as I try to figure out How To Get Yourself in the Mood (for a Royal Wedding).

Starting with the ladies, I’ll begin with The Queen– this is an awesome movie and well worth watching if you haven’t seen it yet: the immediate aftermath of Diana, Princess of Wales’ death in 1997 when the Royal Family stayed silent in the face of a nation’s hysteria.  Helen Mirren (always great to watch) is an uncanny Lizzie II, ably supported by James Cromwell, Michael Sheen and Sylvia Sims.  Michael Sheen’s brilliant in it actually, now I come to think of it, you can almost see the oil oozing off of his portrayal of Tony Blair.

shakespeare in loveIf we’re looking at awe-inspiring Queens (leave your Elton John jokes at the door), I guess we should at least have a little look at Elizabeth I, but I’m going to make a confession here: I think Elizabeth is probably the most obvious choice and certainly the easiest to find, but I went to see it at the cinema when it came out and I think I was a bit bored by it… I don’t really want to watch it again.  It’s worth a look if you haven’t seen it – it looks beautiful and Cate Blanchett is great, but give me a choice between Elizabeth and something else, I’m going to choose something else.

For my Lizzie One fix I’m much more likely to head towards Judi Dench’s Oscar-winning 9 minutes in Shakespeare in Love (loads of the same cast as well… Geoffrey Rush, Joseph Fiennes…).  A lot less worthy, a lot more fun, and my favourite Rupert Everett performance OF ALL TIME.

Speaking of the wonderful Judi Dench, let’s not forget Mrs Brown, in which she plays Queen Victoria in her period of mourning after Prince Albert’s death.  Her Scottish groundsman (Billy Connolly, best known in the UK as the Best Ever Stand-Up Comedian Ever Who Ever Lived Ever and a total revelation in this movie) gradually brings her out of her fugue, much to the disapproval of her family and the government.  As inspiring as it is heartbreaking, it’s one movie I can watch over and over again.  It’s also notable for an early Gerard Butler appearance, before he forgot how to act (PS I Love You, anyone?).

monty-python-and-the-holy-grailSo far, so stately.  The problem with historical films is that on the whole they’re not so big on the *fun* side of sovereignty: it’s a serious business, being a monarch.  Now, I could watch myself some Henry V, Richard III or any other Shakespearian epic for my Kingly fix, but I think for seriousness’ sake, I will go with The Madness of King George, as I’ve never seen it and I’m fed up of people looking at me like I’m a leper when they find that out (Sorry, but look at what else came out in 1994 – I was too busy trying to get someone to hire out The Crow or Leon on video for me to bother with that historical rubbish).  Nigel Hawthorne was a great actor though, so I’ll let you know how I get on.

Enough with all the solemnity now!  We’re trying to get into a celebratory mood here, and mentally ill monarchs don’t exactly scream fun times royal wedding party preparation.  So I propose one final movie, about the finest mythological king, like, EVER: King Arthur.  Get your coconut shells out, and watch out for the Black Knight, for I shall be kicking back to Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  This movie is nearly 40 years old and is freaking HILARIOUS.  I just IMDB’d the memorable quotes and sat giggling for about 20 minutes: I defy you not to do the same…. Go on, watch the trailer.

Run away!!!

Monty Python and the Holy Grail Trailer

But before I get too carried away and start telling people their mother is a hamster, I shall poddle off to try and grow some national pride.  If you’re watching the wedding, enjoy, and if you’re not: I fart in your general direction!

Maggie Kruger fell asleep on her dad’s lap on her first cinema trip to watch Return of the Jedi in 1983, and has loved the movies ever since, even going so far as to study them at college, where she worked on a number of short films. She lives and works in London, UK, and will tell you that her favourite film is Dr Strangelove, although when pressed will also admit a certain weakness for 1980’s brat pack movies and most of Adam Sandler’s early work. Follow her on Twitter: @emmizzykay .

 

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It Came From the 80s: Stripes and the Art of Popcorn Throwing!

Stripes Posterby Sheri White

The Summer of 1981 was the best summer of my teen years. My on-off relationship with Kevin the Lifeguard was on again, I didn’t need to get a job yet, MTV debuted, and most of my time was spent at the pool (although Kevin was no longer a lifeguard) or watching videos.

Howard Stern was on the radio (DC 101!), and he was FUNNY.  He was God doing the weather; he did skits like “Leave it to Cleavage.” Kevin and I even attended a huge tug-of-war event he and Robin Quivers hosted on the DC Mall.

One day we were at Kevin’s house for a BBQ, and some of his friends attended (including Vinnie, who I had a mad crush on, but that’s another story).  Kevin’s mom didn’t care that we all consumed beer, so of course it was flowing (Michelob was popular with us at that time).  Admittedly, we got pretty hammered, and with nothing else to do decided to go see Stripes. (Don’t worry, nobody drove drunk.)

Now, I don’t know if it was because we were lit or because the movie was really that funny, but we laughed like hyenas the whole way through.  I’m sure the guys in our group were bothering the audience, because they had to have running commentary the entire time.  It was funny to us, but now I know how obnoxious teens in a movie theater can be. We were those obnoxious teens.

But who can keep their laughter in when Bill Murray is on the screen? We could’ve reined it in if we hadn’t had all the beer, but God, we had a good time. There was a bit of popcorn tossing as well, much to the delight of the other patrons, I’m sure.

Bill Murray and PJ Soles in Stripes.

Bill Murray and PJ Soles in Stripes.

Bill Murray as John was similar to Alan Alda’s portrayal of Hawkeye, only a LOT funnier and more irreverent.  I know M*A*S*H was edgy (both the movie and series), but Stripes pretty much kicked M*A*S*H’s portrayal of Army life in the ass.  I feel sorry for the people who signed up to serve after seeing this movie and thinking life in the Army would be that funny!

John convinces Russell (Harold Ramis) to join the Army since their lives are going nowhere.  They’ll get in shape, see the world and meet girls!  They end up in a platoon of misfits, and due to their drill sergeant’s injury during a training accident, John ends up commanding the platoon.

We all laughed our asses off when the platoon showed off what Bill Murray had taught them for graduation.  “That’s the fact, Jack!” Somehow they impress the general, and are sent to Italy, where they get into all kinds of trouble after somehow ending up in communist Czechoslovakia.

I do remember that the first half of the movie was funnier than the Italy part, but the beer had its way and I laughed along with everyone else.  I haven’t seen the movie since, and to be honest, I don’t remember everything about the movie; in part due to the beer and in part because I haven’t seen it since that day 30 years ago (HOLY CRAP, I’M OLD).

We had so much fun that summer – days at the pool, nights spend in the woods with six-packs of beer, sitting around talking (maybe a little making out).  One night we even climbed the fence to the pool and swam long after it had closed.  That was a great night.

Bill Murray preps the troops.

Bill Murray preps the troops.

My kids won’t have those experiences.  We live in a rural area where the parents know each other, so there’s no getting away with the stuff my friends and I got away with at ages 15 and 16. We used to walk all over the place, to the mall, movie theaters, the carnival -anyplace that promised a good time.

We were pretty much allowed to go anywhere; our parents worked and we were old enough to take care of ourselves.  Sure, we got into a bit of trouble here and there, but our parents rarely knew.  Our troubles were minor, no cops or anything,  Plus, since we were a small town, we knew all the cops and hung out at the town hall sometimes where the police station was.  They all knew kids drank in the woods and broke into the pool sometimes, but as long as were weren’t being destructive, they looked the other way.

Kevin and I saw other movies that summer during our on-again phase, but I think Stripes is one of my favorite memories because of just how much fun we had.  Going with a group added to the fun as well.

Howard Stern is no longer funny, although my husband disagrees with me.  I think he’s obnoxious now, and has none of the charm he had back in 1981.  But many things no longer have the charm they did back then.  I absolutely love summer, but they are no long carefree days for me; there are always chores that need to be done, kids that need to be driven somewhere, errands to be run.  But I make sure the kids have a good time. I take them to the beach a lot, a nearby pool, and we see movies – but I don’t let them throw popcorn.

Stripes Trailer

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It Came From the 80s: What Do You Get When You Mix Pizza, Beer, and… The Fly?

The Fly (1986) PosterBy Sheri White

In the summer of 1987, I flew to Texas to visit with my dad.  I was married to the Marine at the time, but he had been to deployed to Okinawa (I did get to go visit him there; it was very cool).  I was lonely a lot, though, and needed a change of scenery, so my dad sent me a ticket.

My dad lives in the Dallas area, which is an awesome place to visit.  Great restaurants, fun things to do and see, and real cowboys (not the football team)!  I hadn’t been there since my brother and I went down in 1982 when I was sixteen.  And there’s no better place on Earth to get a medium-rare steak.

Our first stop was lunch at The Magic Time Machine; a theme restaurant where the servers dressed up like characters from movies and TV, or even real people like John Wayne or Elvis.  The salad bar was a fire truck!  I may have been 21, but I wasn’t too old (nor will I ever be) for The Magic Time Machine.

On to Dave & Busters for some beer and video games for a couple hours, then we were ready to rent a movie.  I had already seen The Fly, but my dad hadn’t so we picked that up.  Having seen it before, I was ready for the grossness, but Dad wasn’t.  And his stomach doesn’t handle disgusting things so well.  Heh.

Davis does a little VHS recording action in The Fly (1986).

Davis does a little VHS recording action in The Fly (1986).

We ordered pizza for dinner and had more beer.  I knew that combination would be sloshing around his stomach throughout the movie.    The beginning of the movie is fine; Veronica, a journalist, meets Seth Brundle, a brilliant but eccentric scientist, who shows her his invention, a teleporter.  She decides to report on this extraordinary invention, and they also fall in love.

First he sends inanimate objects from one pod to the next; the success of these experiments leads him to try a monkey, with horrific results.  This little scene was my dad’s first taste of the horrors to come.  The monkey turns inside out, still alive, and it’s showed in loving detail.  Dad was so grossed out.

A full shot of Brundlefly completely mutated.

What do you mean I forgot my pants?

Seth decides Veronica is messing around with her old boyfriend (she isn‘t), who happens to be her editor, so he gets drunk and decides to teleport himself.  However, he doesn’t realize that a fly gets into the machine with him, and this is where his life goes to crap.

He doesn’t outwardly change right away, but Veronica gets clues from his behavior, then finds weird hairs growing out of his back.  She has them analyzed – insect hairs.

My dad is doing OK at this point; it’s pretty tame – until the outward changes start occurring.  At various times, Seth Brundle is losing teeth, peeling off his fingernails, and breaking some tough guy’s arm with his sudden strength.  Veronica wants no part of this lunacy, and she backs off.  But when Seth calls her for help, she can’t resist.

Dad is full of Coors and Domino’s, and it’s coming back to haunt him now.  I’m sitting where he can’t quite see me without looking directly at me, so I get to covertly hide my eyes when I know gross parts are coming.  I don’t give Dad that courtesy.

Now, one thing that gets my dad really bad is when people throw up.  Or when dogs or cats throw up.  Vomiting from anything, man or animal, gets him feeling pukey himself.

Pukey McPukerson and the Puke Machine.

Pukey McPukerson and the Puke Machine.

So when Seth suddenly spews white goo without warning, I really thought Dad was going to lose it.  He completely freaked.  I laughed so hard I thought beer would come out my nose.  It was great.

I guess I could’ve been a better daughter and told him there was more vomiting in the movie.  But that would’ve spoiled my fun!  I also could’ve told him about body parts decaying and dropping off the Brundlefly, or the maggot birth scene, but I didn’t.

By the time the movie finally ended, my dad was a shell of himself.  Shaky, worn-out and grossed-out.  He was also a little pissed off, but more amused at the situation than anything.  And I think he’s forgiven me by now; I mean, it’s been over 20 years since that night.  But it’s fun to get his reaction when I remind him of the movie; I don’t think he’s seen it again.  When I do mention it, he gets a great look of horror on his face – I love it.

Hopefully he’ll be heading up to Maryland sometime this year, and I think I know what movie to put in the DVD player after we order up some Domino’s and drink some Coors Light…

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It Came From the ’80s: How ‘The Exorcist’ Corrupted Two Catholic School Girls!

Iconic scene from The Exorcist (1973)

by Sheri White

If you’ve been reading my essays, you’d think that I only saw movies with boys when I was a teenager.  Not so!  One of my best friends, Marybeth, and I saw The Exorcist together at a midnight movie.

We worked together, with some of our other friends, at an amusement park called Wild World (which is now Six Flags, and has lost its charm).  Marybeth was a Carts Manager, and I was a Roving Cashier. Yeah, we were pretty cool.

One night after the park closed, Marybeth and I decided to go to see a movie.  Midnight movies were popular in the 80s, so there was always an excuse to be out late.  Sometimes, telling our parents we were seeing a midnight movie was an excellent opportunity to be getting into trouble somewhere else.

But on this night, we did go to the movies, and we got to see The Exorcist.  I had only seen bits and pieces of it on television; my mom wouldn’t let me watch it whenever it was on TV.  I had seen enough to know it was pretty scary.  Not to mention, Marybeth and I were Catholic girls and just knew this was a true story.  I mean, the nuns at school were always warning us away from Ouija boards and rock music since they were evil and could possess us.

I don’t know about Marybeth, but I believed with all my heart that a Ouija board could possess you (rock music not so much).  I even went into another room at a slumber party when one of the girls brought one out.

Hell, I still won’t mess with a Ouija board!

So when Regan befriended Captain Howdy through her board, I knew she was in for a lot of trouble.  Understatement, right?

I remember watching a lot of The Exorcist through my fingers.  I still think it’s the scariest movie ever made, and I still can’t watch it alone.  Marybeth and I did a lot of grabbing one another and shrieking, especially when Regan’s head spun around.  The sound it made!  Dear God, the sound.

This was before the Director’s Cut that was released back in 2000, thankfully.  I think if I had seen the “spider walk” at age 16, I’d still be recovering.

Get this, though – my 15-year-old daughter recently watched The Exorcistall by herself.  And it was the Director’s Cut version with the “spider walk!”  WTF? The kid is braver than I am, that’s for sure.

Although I was completely terrified during the movie, I had a lot of fun. Trying to sleep later that night was a different story; I kept seeing Regan as she levitated during the exorcism in my mind’s eye.  And was it wrong to think the young priest was cute?  I’m sure the nuns at school would be horrified to know I thought so.

Marybeth and I are still friends, almost 30 years later.  I hope she remembers that night and had as much fun as I had.  I don’t know if she’s seen The Exorcist since that midnight movie.  I’ve seen the “spider walk” online (thanks for sending me the link, lovely daughter; you know I can’t resist links) and that’s been enough for me.

I still listen to rock and roll, though – even if it is the Devil’s music.

The Exorcist Trailer

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It Came From the ’80s: Midnight Movie Memories, Or Why Caligula Makes For an Awkward First Date!

Midnight Movies

by Sheri White

I have a first-date story that can top many others’ first-date stories.  I saw what was essentially a porn film with a guy named Mark.  I did not do this on purpose; however, I don’t know if Mark knew what the film was about.

Really, for all my partying and semi-wild ways as a teen, I was pretty innocent.

I knew Mark through my friend Marybeth, and we hit it off pretty well, so he asked me out.  We went to Georgetown (Washington, DC) and did a little barhopping.

Back then, Georgetown was an amazing place to go for a good time.  There were bars all along M Street, cool shops, and as a bonus – you could creep yourself out checking out the “Exorcist stairs.”

Wisconsin Avenue was the place to eat and catch a movie.  Mark and I were walking along Wisconsin Avenue, and saw there was a midnight showing of the movie “Caligula.”  I absolutely LOVED going to midnight movies, so when Mark suggested going in, I was game.

Caligula posterI had absolutely NO IDEA that “Caligula” was a movie by Bob Guccione of Penthouse Magazine, one of the more graphic men’s magazines at the time.  I hadn’t even heard of Caligula – either I skipped that day in History class, or it wasn’t taught at our strict girls-only Catholic high school.  Either way, I didn’t have a clue what I was in for.

“Caligula” is the story of Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, also known as Caligula, who was thought to be an insane, perverted ruler.  Whether he actually was or not doesn’t matter, what matters is that the movie took those supposed traits to the extreme.

You would think that a movie that stars Sir John Gielguld, Helen Mirren and Malcolm McDowell would be a classy, serious movie.  Oh, no.  Malcolm McDowell held back nothing in his portrayal of the Emperor.

Mark told me before the movie started that it was about a Roman Emperor.  I expected to be bored, but was still up for it.  Instead, holy crap, was I horrified!  The images on the screen are forever burned into my brain, even though I saw the movie 27 years ago.

I am definitely not going to describe this movie – I have family reading this!  Suffice it to say that I should not have seen this movie ever, let alone on a first date.  I’m no prude or anything, but geez!

Malcolm McDowell in CaligulaThankfully, Mark wasn’t a jerk about it, but I still have no idea why we stayed and watched the whole movie.  Granted, the non-porn parts were pretty interesting, so maybe that’s why.

Maybe I didn’t want him to think I was a kid (he was a few years older than I).  Whatever the reason, we stuck with it through the end.  And I’ll admit, the ending made me a little sad.

Technically, this movie was made in 1979, but I saw it in 1984, so I consider this an 80s movie.

Mark and I remained friends and hung out with Marybeth, but nothing ever came of the relationship.  We were able to laugh about the movie after a little time passed.  I haven’t seen it since, and doubt I’ll ever watch it again.

But I think there is a censored version for anyone who wants to check out the movie without fainting.  It’s not just the sex in the movie, the violence is pretty horrific as well.  I don’t think the sparkly vampire-loving teens today could handle this movie.

The only place movies like this are being made these days is in the adult-film industry – and even those are probably pretty tame compared to “Caligula.”

So I won’t recommend this movie, but if you do watch the uncensored version, I’d love to hear what you think of it – was I a prude for being shocked?  Should I have insisted Mark and I walked out?  Can this first-date story be topped?  I’d be surprised!

You can’t watch this movie and not have some sort of visceral reaction.

I haven’t spoken to Mark in over 20 years – but you can bet we’ll laugh about our embarrassing first date together if we do!

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