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Monthly Archives: November 2013

All the Pretty Horses (1992): Blacks and Bays, Dapples and Greys

Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses (Vintage, 1992)

[originally posted 19Sep2000]

photo credit: Wikipedia

Prick up your ears.

Funny, here’s the same sentence as above. While I consider Blood Meridian a (vastly) superior novel to All the Pretty Horses

What set Blood Meridian off from most American novels is its poetic quality. Not just in the language, rhythm, and diction of McCarthy’s voice—all of which are here, just as they are int he other novel—but Blood Meridian was also not afraid to divert for a while and allow the symbolism inherent in the characters, the settings, and the actions to flourish in their own right. All the Pretty Horses is a far more plot-driven novel than Blood Meridian is. It’s shorter, more to the point, and more absorbing. But because of those things, there’s not that sense of immersion, the feeling of total connectedness with the landscape, the pervades every page of Blood Meridian.
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Apollo 18 (2011): To the Moon, Warren!

Apollo 18 (Gonzalo López-Gallego, 2011)


photo credit:

That’s one small step for… what the hell ARE you, anyway?

I had somehow missed, or forgotten, that Apollo 18 is yet another shakycam-found-footage “mockumentary”, but even after realizing that, I kept watching anyway. I don’t hate those movies perhaps as much as I should, especially given that I am prone to motion sickness. And for most of its length, Apollo 18 is a run-of-the-mill found-footage horror film, nothing special, nothing great. Then you get to the end of the movie, and if you have any shred of suspended disbelief left, you will start throwing things at the screen and demanding your money back. Even if it’s your TV screen and you pay eight bucks a month for Netflix and you watch enough movies that you actually paid all of about three cents to watch this.

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The Sculptress (1993): Clay Lies Still

Minette Walters, The Sculptress (St. Martin’s, 1993)

[originally posted 19Sep2000]

photo credit:

Would you buy a car from this woman?

Back when I was reading The Breaker, I noticed that a lot of reviews of it compared it quite unfavorably to Walters’ other novels. I still consider those reviews somewhat wrongheaded, but now I realize it’s not because people didn’t realize The Breaker was any good; it’s because people were seeing the same kinds of plot devices as Walters has used int he past, but Walters is now getting too subtle for the average mystery reader.
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Desert Island Disc Day 4D: 9th and Penn, Round One

Day 4D: 9th and Penn, Round One

Day 4D Start

And we are into the second half of the Final Ninety-Six, and in this bracket, the following musical numbers will be paraded shamelessly before you:

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Jade (1995): Cubic Shitconia

Jade (William Friedkin, 1995)

[originally posted 22Oct2000]

photo credit:

Another case of “the poster is the best thing about the movie.”

Good things about Jade:
1. Gratuitous use of Loreena McKennitt

Okay, I’ll try to be fair. Things that SHOULD have been good about Jade:
1. William Friedkin. What the hell was he thinking?
2. David Caruso, if he hadn’t been trying to sound exactly like Russell Crowe
3. Chazz Palminteri, if he hadn’t been trying to be Joe Mantegna
4. Richard Crenna attempting to use the F-word in a serious conversation, had Friedkin been filming it for laughs
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5 Bambole per la Luna d’Agosto (Five Dolls for an August Moon (1970): Five Italian Redshirts Walk into a Mansion…

Starting (hopefully) a new tradition here at Popcorn… highlighting turkeys on turkey day. Fort hose of you overseas, the fourth Thursday in America is Thanksgiving, aka “that holiday where we supposedly sat down with the Native Americans and ate together before we took all their land, gave them smallpox and liquor, and generally treated them like crap.” Most of America that eats meat digs into a turkey on Thanksgiving. Me, I dug into this particular turkey a few weeks beforehand, unfortunately.

5 Bambole per la Luna d’Agosto (Five Dolls for an August Moon) (Mario Bava, 1970)


photo credit: Wrong Side of the Art

At a guess, the guy with the bigger portrait is…more important.

Every few years, I sit down with another Mario Bava movie to see if I can finally get a glimpse of what so many of my friends see in this guy’s movies. Every time, I fail. I’ve seen a few Bava films I’d call watchable, none I’d call great, and a bunch about which the kindest thing I can say is that they’re awful. Five Dolls for an August Moon falls into the last category.

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Priest (1994): Dona Eis Requiem

Priest (Antonia Bird, 1994)

[originally posted 16Oct2000]

photo credit:

It’s hot under the collar!

What a flap this movie caused when it came out. The Catholic church hit the roof. And with good reason, too. Mother Church doesn’t seem to get too nasty over bad films.
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Socket (2007): Some Holes Should Never Be Plugged

Socket (Sean Abley, 2007)


photo credit:

“Is this like that dream where you’re in english class in your underwear? And if so, where’s our underwear?”

A while back, I reviewed a ridiculous, but quite amusing, little movie called The Gay Bed and Breakfast of Terror. While I was doing the research on that one, I happened upon Socket; so many personnel cross over between the two films that it almost seems as if this was one of those Roger Corman-esque situations where they wrapped one film early, realized they had time on their hands and extra film stock, and said “hey, who’s got a script they want to film?” If I’m right on that, this was the movie they set out to make, and …Bed and Breakfast… was the afterthought; every place that movie is silly, stupid fun, Socket is serious as an electrocution burn. The unfortunate side effect of this is that where …Bed and Breakfast… escaped its basement budget relatively unharmed—in fact, connoisseurs of bad slasher movies almost expect movies to have zero budget going into them—Socket is a movie that could have really, really used a budget boost in order to get the most out of its ideas. None of the movie’s problems on its own is a showstopper, but they do add up.

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Das Waren Noch Zeiten (2000): Too Loud (for the Crowd)

Baal/Luftkanone, Des Waren Noch Zeiten (ES3, 2000)

[originally posted 7Jul2000]

photo credit:

The blind leading the naked.

Two of the area’s most original bands get together and record a CD. The cliche “expect the unexpected” pops into mind. And, as cliched as it is, that’s about the long and short of it.
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Schizo (1976): Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue, I’m Schizophrenic, And So Am I

photo credit: Oregon State University

Schizo (Pete Walker, 1976)


photo credit:

How does one make basic black lurid? Ask Pete Walker.

I can’t believe I’m the only person who saw the ending of Schizo coming less than five minutes into the movie. In the seventies (and, unfortunately, beyond), there was a tendency to conflate schizophrenia and what we now know as Dissociative Identity Disorder. (That whether DID even exists is still a controversy raging in psychology journals, as depicted in the recent Julianne Moore vehicle 6 Souls, is interesting, but ultimately irrelevant to the current discussion.) The film starts out with a voice-over about schizophrenia. Well, actually, it starts out with a voice-over about split personality (the seventies term for DID, back when the now-discredited Sybil was all the rage) that contains a few less-than-subtle clues about the Big Reveal at the end of the film. Within two sequences of that voiceover, I knew what that Big Reveal was going to be, and you probably will as well. Given that the movie is framed as a genre mystery, this does tend to curtail one’s enjoyment.

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