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The Boob Tube (1975)
So bad it's good (almost)
Possibly one of the ten-worst movies ever made, 'Boob Tube' was a drive- in staple during the mid-70's. Seeing it was a rite of passage for horny guys in their coming-of-age years. Has a heavy nostalgia factor.
The acting is purposely over the top in a vain attempt at being hilariously funny. My score: three smiles, two chuckles. Perhaps part of the problem is that the jokes, mostly sex-related double entendres,could have been written by a junior high student. Or maybe they were. Who knows?
The story line, if you want to call it that, revolves around, well, sex and boobs. No surprise there. It is presented in a bunch of loosely related short segments ala 'Kentucky Fried Movie'. Recommended to lovers of drive-in drivel or late baby boomers wanting to re-live their ribald past.
Flesh for Frankenstein (1973)
My first time....
When I was in Navy Hosp Corps School back in Feb. 1977 I took the train to Chicago. I was looking for something to do and happened to stumble upon a seedy downtown theater showing this film in 3D. Wasn't much else to do, so in I went. They passed out those stupid red lens/green lens glasses, and presto! 3D it was!! The ultimate in camp! I absolutely loved it. I stumbled upon this film at a yard sale this past summer, and still loved it in 2d. The acting is hit-and-miss, the plot is thin, but it more than makes up for it in atmosphere and gore. The perfect camp formula, in my opinion. Although Andy Warhol's name appears nowhere in the credits except 'producer' and the title, my hat's off to him. Without his name this little gem would have remained buried somewhere in European film vaults. Thanks, Andy!
Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)
Can't be any worse, can't be more fun to watch.
First of all, let me say this: whether or not a movie is "good" or "bad" is not my primary concern. It may influence how I rate a particular film, but in the end, all I really care about is how much I ENJOYED a movie. Pure and simple. 'Plan 9' is one of the worst films ever made, but it's an incredibly fun movie to watch. I recommend it to anyone who likes camp, who likes to laugh at bad movies, who would like to see the movie that received the Golden Turkey Award for "The Worst Film of All Time".
And it probably is. The acting is the absolute pits. By everyone. Check out Tor's performance. He is reputed to be one of the worst actors to ever grace the screen. Bela Lugosi died in the middle of filming and was replaced by his dentist, who was about 6" taller. Hell, who's gonna notice, anyway? But he was also considerably younger the Lugosi, and looked nothing like him, so he played every scene with his cape over his face! They could've dragged anyone off the street and gotten the same affect.
They sets are so cheesey it hard to believe. Shower curtains are used to help simulate the cockpit of a space ship. Hub caps impersonate flying saucers.
If you want to see the definitive "so bad it's good" film, by all means pick it up.
A showcase of talent.
OK, not the best all-time film, but one thing it does is demonstrate the versatility and talent of Brendan Frazer. He plays several personalities, and does them all convincingly. He's got my vote as one of the best talents in film today. Nuff said.
How to Murder Your Wife (1965)
No practical advise here.
The title is very misleading. For a "how to" movie, this one just doesn't cut it. The plot revolves around circumstances and methods that are simply too specific. In the movie, Jack Lemmon's character lives in a townhouse with a new high rise going up next door, a situation which is central to the plot and, therefore, his method. Not many people live in that sort of neighborhood. He didn't poison her, shoot her, run her over with his car, or take out a contract on her. I don't want to be a spoiler, so I can't reveal how he did it. Suffice to say it was not a method anyone else could put to use. Very disappointing. To make matters worse, he didn't really get away with it. Anyone can murder their wife and get caught. The trick is not to get caught.
If one is looking for a practical method to do away with one's female spouse, he would do better to read the local paper, where on almost any given day there is a story of a local boy doing the dirty deed. Just figure out where he went wrong and go from there.
No, monks did NOT invent alcohol!!!
Father Andrew (holding a beer): Did you know that monks invented alcohol?
Frankie: Everyone knows that!
Actually, alcoholic beverages have been around hundreds and hundreds of years B.C. The Egyptians? Try at least the Babylonians. It was most likely discovered when barley was left out in a vessel, got wet, then spontaneously mashed and fermented. Some believe the Babylonians used up to half their barley on beer. But now, thanks to this stupid movie, every high school and college kid who sees it is going to go around saying, "Dude! Did you know monks invented alcohol? No really. I learned that in a movie."
OK, what else about this film? Howzabout all style and very little substance? Some people commented it's like watching a music video. I agree.
I also wondered how a hairdresser could afford that swell city apartment. Most hairdressers I know, at least the single ones, live in trailer parks or not much better.
OK, maybe I'm getting a little too hyper-critical, but that beer thing really set me off. And by the way, some of the best beer in the world really is made my monks, particularly by those in Belgian monasteries. Try a Chimay some time. Brewed since 1664. Nothing quite like it.
That '70s Show (1998)
Another vote for "That '70s Show"
Wow! Having graduated from high school in '71 I can identify with this show and testify that the parody is pretty much right on. I swear I knew every one of these characters when I was in my teens and early 20's. And characters they are. Each one has a completely unique personality, yet they are all true to life.
Another thing I like about this show is that all the humor does not revolve around sexual inuendo, as almost every other show on TV does nowadays. I have nothing against sexual inuendo, but geez! When EVERY show revolves around the same theme, when every show has the same punchlines over and over it really gets old. What we have here is a little originality, and it is soooo refreshing.
And the pot-smoking? Hey, how could you do a show about the '70s without it? I'll bet 90% of the people I knew back then got high. There are worse things to glorify. Like all the violence on TV, for instance. With all the drugs, long hair, protests, and hippies, the '70s were STILL a much better era to live in. Why? Much less violence, much more idealism. Unless you count Vietnam, but hey; that was government-sponsored violence, and a government-sponsored reality check, so who's to argue?
Stupid Plot Tricks: Hey! Watch me outsmart the Indians!
Screenwriters know that if a plot element is proposed by a character (usually a main character), the viewer usually accepts it unquestioningly, no matter how absurd said plot element may be. Shalako contains such an element.
Sean Connery and crew (about six other people, to my recollection) are trying escape from the Indians by leaving a besieged fort and sneaking away to a distant mountain. This in itself is an absurd proposition. I mean, white people can't just sneak out of a fort in broad daylight and fool a band of Indians. Not even when, on Connery's order, they go the long way because, as he explains, "the Indians won't expect it".
Anyway, when our stealthy little gang gets to an outcropping of boulders, Connery gets busy. Sean tells them all to hide behind the rocks, and then he reaches into his bag of tricks. After all are safely hidden, he takes a tree branch and proceeds to (you guessed it) erase their tracks!! He obliterates about 20 feet of footprints, brushes around a corner and, just for good measure, erases the last 15 feet leading to the rocks. And sure enough, the Injuns are completely dumbfounded! They follow the tracks all the way up to where they end and then, 'Wow! Where did they go?!' They sit there on their horses for a few minutes scratching their heads and then, as the palefaces peek out from behind the rocks, they turn and trot off into the sunset. 'Paleface disappear into thin air. We no lookum anymore. Injuns go back'. Hard to believe, but Sean pulls it off. Maybe while the Indians were learning how to track footprints they should have also learned how to follow brush marks left by tree branches.
But whatever. As it turns out, our heroes could have saved themselves alot of trouble by simply staying where they were. In the end the Indians found 'em anyway, and the end the film's main conflict was solved in a typical Hollywood fight to the death. As it turns out, this little trek serves no purpose except to fill out about 45 minutes worth of run time. And to show us how crafty a really witty white guy can be.
The General's Daughter (1999)
Stupid Plot Tricks: 'We can keep it out of the papers!'
Ever notice how the screenwriter, through a character who supposedly knows what he-she is talking about, can sometimes introduce a plot element that, unless we sit back and analyze what has just been offered, we blindly accept?
'The General's Daughter' contains such an element: The General's daughter has just been murdered. Understandably, the General is quite upset and wants to keep this incident out of the media. Therefore, he tells John Travolta, the crime must be solved in 10 days. If it is not solved in ten days, the FBI will get involved. This must be avoided, because unless the FBI enters the fray, the media will not find out about the murder and a successful cover-up can be accomplished.
How in Hell's name does the FBI getting or not getting involved in the murder investigation have anything to do with whether or not the story becomes a headline? The woman lives off base. She sees people: her neighbors and her landlady, for instance (in films it seems it's always a landlady; hardly ever a landlord). She does business with people in the local community. She has friends. She works with people. Someone just may notice she's missing. Someone may ask questions. Then there is the matter of local law enforcement. They knew all about the murder, and were rather agitated about the entire affair. HELLO? Do we not realize that local newshounds read police reports? I mean, c'mon. It's part of their job. And finally, there is the tiny matter of where and how the body was found (I won't give it away, but suffice to say it wasn't very well hidden). When dead bodies are found lying around rumors start to fly, and anyone who has ever been in the military, or that matter in any job environment, knows how rumors get around.
But let's just keep the FBI out of this. Wouldn't want THEM blabbing all over the place!
McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)
High Noon revisited (sort of)
'High Noon', starring Gary Cooper, is an all-time classic western. Cooper is a sheriff who is about to face almost certain death at the hands of a gunslinger. He knows it, the town knows it. But no one lifts a finger to help him, even though he helped the town grow...a leading citizen, if you will. In the end, though, he prevails. But the setting; it could have been set in the present. It could have been futuristic, it could have been set in any era. I guess the same could be said about most westerns, but 'High Noon' stands out as a morality play that just happens to be set in the Old West.
All of the above could be said about 'McCabe' except for one thing: in the end, McCabe does not prevail. He is hunted down by the hired killers and, although they get theirs, he gets his as well. Where 'High Noon' leaves the viewer feeling satisfied, 'McCabe' leaves us in an oddly uncomfortable mood. "Just what is wrong with people, anyhow?" Even the preacher turns on him, threatening to shoot him, sending him out of sanctuary and forcing him to leave his rifle, his only chance at survival, in the church. Neither film is a strong endorsement of mankind, but while 'High Noon' leaves us with some hope, 'McCabe' drives the point right through our hearts: when the chips are down, you can't count on anyone but yourself.