The War for the Planet of the Apes is waging in cinemas across the nation, so what better way to skull-ebrate the apes than a damn, dirty cartoon?
Return to the Planet of the Apes premiered on September 6, 1975 and was broadcast until September 4, 1976, with 13 episodes in total. It was the second television series based on the franchise, following the short-lived live action series that aired the previous year. The series depicts a technologically advanced society of apes, sticking closer to Pierre Boulle’s original novel than its predecessors. In short, it’s totally worth going ape for. 😉 What’s really cool about this series is that it feels like Planet of the Apes. For the most part, it maintains the overall tone of the previous versions and it’s fairly clever in its writing. Sure, the animation is basically at “motion comic” level, but the art itself is quite beautiful. As a cartoon based on one of the most eXXXceptional sci-fi film series of all time, it’s pretty groovy. It’s dark, it’s thrilling, and it doesn’t have Tom Felton quoting the first film. I’m bananas for it! 🙂
I do believe that Dario Argento, director of such stunning and inspiring movies like Suspiria and Phenomena, gets plenty of recognition, but I’m not sure if he gets all the recognition he deserves. I dunno, maybe he does, but I feel like we should be talking about him a lot more. Some argue that the giallo genre was shaped and molded by Mario Bava and I totally agree with that, but I believe it was when Dario Argento got his black leather gloves all over it, he perfected it.
Before his films were known for being brightly colorful comic book images come to life, Dario Argento worked more with shadows and lights. There’s something so chilling about the way he shoots a black leather glove, outlined by moonlight, tracing the contours of a knife. I could go on forever about how visually impressive his movies are, but I think visually being able to tell a movie is something that is being lost. Ironic, I know, but consider everything we can do to make any frame of a movie you are watching look fantastic. Obviously, it wasn’t always that way and it took creative people with a stylish, artistic vision to bring it to life.
The Bird With the Crystal Plumage is Dario Argento’s directorial debut and the only comparison is Reservoir Dogs and Quentin Tarantino. Coming out swinging and swinging hard, sister. When you look at the core story of The Bird With the Crystal Plumage, it’s quite simple. I believe most of the greatest films are simple stories, but it takes a great director to tell that simple story. When you take a step back and look at it, it’s nothing more than a guy who witnesses a murder and helps with the investigation. Not too complicated, but once you introduce some interesting characters, a few sexy sirens, a killer that not only lurks in the shadows, but has taken an interest in the film’s protagonist who has reluctantly decided to help the police seeing as how he’s a material witness (because, you know, that’s totally acceptable). Argento will also start his notorious trend of the main character solving the murder by recalling clues through memory. It’s interesting how it’s used here, with no sound, playing over and over like a nightmare and seemingly getting closer and closer to the truth. As a viewer, you begin to feel like you yourself are reliving that horrible moment and I found myself on the edge of the seat, leaning in and intently staring at the screening, hoping to find some detail or clue Argento has left for his hero. And for us.
The answer is right in front of you the whole time, but you’ll never see it. When the film ends, it will become so obvious, but until then The Bird With the Crystal Plumage is an energetic thriller that has more than enough surprises and for the most part is easy to follow along. But before the end, you obviously have to start at the beginning, a theme that Argento’s giallos typically follow. Tony Musante plays an American (because that name screams America) ex-writer named Sam living in Italy who accidentally witnesses a murder on his way home one night. I just realized that the phrase “accidentally witnesses a murder” is an oxymoron, seeing as how I don’t think that’s anyone’s intention. And he was two days away from retirement, dammit, or in this case from moving! Seeing as how the inspector has taken Sam’s passport, he won’t be moving in the foreseeable future, so he may as well insert himself in the investigation and solve the case. Because, ya know, that’s something witnesses can do. It’s okay to meddle in police business and put yourself – the material witness – in danger.
By following some evidence, a left handed glove with cigarette ash on it, they connect this attempted murder to three other women that have been murdered, but there must be a bigger connection. Honestly, I don’t think there is between the victims or at least nothing that I recall. Partnering with his hot-to-trot vixen of a girlfriend (played by Torso’s Suzy Kendall, the film that is arguably one of the first slashers), they don’t necessarily connect the dots, but come across an interesting clue; the killer had bought a painting of a man killing a woman from a woman he murdered. Confused? Don’t be, it’s not as complicated as it sounds, but the way it fits into this puzzle as a whole may seem like a bit of a stretch, but I think it’s more of an interesting way to tie it all together. It also helps fill in the gaps when Sam isn’t being stalked by a figure in a trench coat and a fedora, like when he’s walking down a foggy street, totally unaware he is being stalked until he has a meat clever swung at his head! It’s a good scene and a cool shot, but I wouldn’t call it tense seeing as I don’t think the movie would try to kill our main character before is halfway over. This isn’t Executive Decision here.
The closer they get to discovering the identity of the killer, the more threats they receive, which is arguably understandable. At least from the killer’s point of view, anyway. That’s pretty much your movie right there, but like I said, it’s pretty simple at its core, but Argento throws in some interesting pieces to make it seem different or more complicated than it actually is. I do have to say that I wouldn’t say the ending is a twist since that’s pretty standard for giallos, but I will say regardless of the obvious red herrings, I didn’t see it coming and it was a hair raising revelation when Sam recalls the events correctly that night and identifies the killer.
Usually a director’s earlier works are noticeably weaker, but not Argento’s. This film looks just as beautifully directed as his later works, like Deep Red or Suspiria. The Bird With the Crystal Plumage is a strong, solid film that has a moderately suspenseful story with interesting, but not over the top characters (accompanied by great performances), sexy girls and amazing cinematography. The only thing it seems to be lacking is gore, something Argento would later increase with Deep Red and Tenebrae. The film isn’t a violent, bloody mess like you would expect from a murder mystery, in fact there is very little blood. Luckily, this isn’t a Fulci film, so it’s not like you’re expecting it or viewing it simply to watch people get their guts spilled or eyeballs tortured in some way. Then again, that’s where the two filmmakers are noticeably different; Argento was more about mood and style and Fulci – at times – was about atmosphere and gore.
The Bird With the Crystal Plumage joins the ranks of other great giallos put out by Arrow Video and I’m happy the first time in about ten years I viewed this film was on a brand new 4K transfer that looked sharp and colors were vibrant and wild that it was like viewing a catalogue of models and trends in the ‘70s. Being an Italian film, you do have the option of seeing it with its original Italian audio track (with optional English subtitles). This release also features a new audio commentary from Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films, The Power of Perception, a new visual essay on the cinema of Dario Argento by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, author of Devil’s Advocates: Suspiria and Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study, new analysis of the film by critic Kat Ellinger, new interview with writer/director Dario Argento, new interview with actor Gildo Di Marco (Garullo the pimp). This release also features a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Candice Tripp, as well as a double-sided fold-out poster and 6 Lobby Card reproductions. I think the bonus fans will enjoy the most is the limited edition 60-page booklet illustrated by Matthew Griffin, featuring an appreciation of the film by Michael Mackenzie, and new writing by Howard Hughes and Jack Seabrook. Lots of cool information to be found there.
The Bird With the Crystal Plumage is a classic, not matter if you see it as a giallo, horror or even as an Argento film, it perfectly represents all three. It may not be his best or bloodiest work, but it’s a great little thriller that doesn’t try to be bigger than what it is and still keeps you intrigued every step of the way.
(I used to LOVE the shit out of this movie, so seems appropriate to be included in out #TBT offerings…Submitted, of course, by Mr. Goon-y Goon himself, Mr. Andrew Peters. Thanks for the mammaries, Kinky Ho-mie!! 😉 xoxo)
The ‘90s was an odd time for science fiction films. It’s like they couldn’t be made properly and nobody wanted them, but dammit, they were trying. Made on relatively modest budgets for what they were trying to achieve, the films themselves were over ambitious and may have missed the mark, but something about them was noteworthy. Films like The Lawnmower Man, Johnny Mnemonic or Mimic come to mind. When you look at those films, you would be shocked at what the special effects they were able to achieve or what stars they managed to rope into them. Of course, none of them were appreciated upon release, underperforming at the box office, but these kinds of flicks seem to be special to fans of this genre and have gained cult following. However, I think the best example of a smaller budgeted, overhyped (at the time) sci-fi film would be Species. Yeah, remember that movie? Unlike the other ones I mentioned, this actually performed fairly decent and I think we can chalk it up to two things…
Natasha Henstridge’s boobs. After this movie came out, this just became the “did you see Natasha Henstridge’s tits in that one movie” movie. It was all anyone talked about in school and I seem to recall one kid loaning a VHS copy to another kid and need it back by tomorrow before his dad noticed it was missing. Seriously, before rewatching Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray release, the only thing I could recall about this film is that she’s some alien chick and you see her boobs a lot. In fact, I seem to remember this being sold as a very dirty, nearly X rated flick because of the amount of nudity and sex in it. However upon this viewing, I found that although the film does contain those, they weren’t nearly as prominent as I had remembered and it focused more on a cool sci-fi story, even if it is a tad underdeveloped. Seeing as how the film made three times its budget back, I would say that selling the sex angle probably helped it.
Species centers around a young woman named Sil (who at this point in the film is played by a very young Michelle Williams), some sort of alien experiment that seems to be rapidly aging. Her life doesn’t seem as glorious as you may expect an alien visitor to have; she’s kept in a bubble and doesn’t seem to have a whole lot to do and now some Professor X looking dude with eyeliner named Fitch (Ben Kingsley) decides it’s a good idea to gas her. Luckily for her, unfortunately for them, the underestimate the strength of her prison and the efficiency of their security staff as she manages to escape and twists a hobo around backwards while on the run, all before boarding a train. Cardio is important, even if you have a train to catch.
While aboard the train, she pigs out on all kinds of junk food before doubling over in pain and with the magic of early ‘90s terrible CG, we’re able to see that something is growing inside her. She cocoons inside a train car and I really loved the practical effect in this scene. It reminded me of the ghosts from Silent Hill 4: The Room where the ghosts would touch the wall and that goop would grow or something out of a Resident Evil game. It’s was pulsating and oozing until it gives birth to a fully formed adult Sil, now played by Natasha Henstridge, who parades around her wonderful ta-tas in a dozen scenes. I also want to point out that every decades boobs seem different from the following decades. Do you know what I’m talking about? Look at ‘70s boobs compared to ‘80s boobs and compare them to ‘90s boobs. Natasha Henstridge had probably the best ‘90s boobs, hands down.
So, unfortunately the have to throw in this boring thing called plot instead of having Sil run around naked the whole time. Ben Kingsley hires team of scientists – or scientist type people – and some sort of mercenary hunter dude, Preston “Press” Lennox, played by a post Reservoir Dogs Michael Madsen, so he was in pretty decent shape and his voice hadn’t quite sounded like it had a bottle brush down it, but was a little quiet and gruff. And seriously, “Press” Lennox? You may as well name the dude Max Power or Slam Chunklift. He and the ‘too-hot-to-actually-be-a-doctor’ Dr. Laura Baker (Marg Helgenberger) seem to hit it off, but honestly I thought she was possibly the weakest character and the film must’ve thought so too, because they give her a sex scene with some nice side boob, but while this sex scene is intercut with Natasha Henstridge and Alfred Molina’s, you don’t really care. Yes, by the way, I did say Alfred Molina. I bet you thought you’d never see Doc Ock from Spider-Man 2 make his “Oh” face, did you? His character kinda becomes the poon hound outta nowhere in a scene when they go out drinking and I think it’s for exposition sake, because if you haven’t guessed already, the whole point to Sil’s rapid growth and obsession with sex is to mate and procreate.
Now the movie never states if it’s because her species are regular horndogs or if she’s trying to recreate her own kind, so to speak, but as the movie progresses it becomes more urgent that she to her that she bangs. I honestly think this may be the filmmakers way of taking a stab at the audience. It’s basically a cat and mouse type of movie at this point, but with plenty of nudity. To be fair, my summary makes this seem much more simplistic than it actually is. Sil’s quite the clever lady and even kidnaps a woman, cuts off her finger and burns her alive to escape, giving her just enough time to change her hair color and become the predator to her prey, the group of scientists that have been hunting her. She manages to turn the tables and the conclusion is a rather interesting mix of creative and very sexualized HR Giger designed practicals to some PS2 level CG. What I took from the conclusion is that I got to see a see a supermodel try and strangle Mr. Blonde with her nipples. Yup, they shoot out like snakes and wrap around his neck. Didn’t see that coming.
It’s funny to me that everyone remembers this movie for having Natasha Henstridge nude for the majority of it when she actually isn’t, but nobody seems to remember Mathilda May being butt nekkid in damn near every scene she’s in throughout Lifeforce. However, for being a sex symbol in what is ultimately a somewhat sleazy, sci-fi/horror film, Natasha Henstridge does put on quite a good show and I’m not just talking about her nude scenes. She’s just as scary as she is sexy and she doesn’t start out totally evil, but instead her instinct and need to procreate overwhelms her she becomes more viscous. She does this transition very well and as I’m typing that out, I also wonder if that was the filmmakers intent, to take another jab at the hormones of the male audience. Or I’ve been overthinking this film way too much. Another great performance I didn’t mention was Forest Whitaker’s character who is kinda clairvoyant, but very emotional when he senses what feelings the other person is feeling. He plays all ends of the emotional spectrum, really showing off his talent and it’s probably why the guy kept getting better and better work. Well, except for Battlefield Earth.
I mentioned earlier that Scream Factory has released Species in a two disc set with the film being a brand new 4K scan and to be fair, that’s probably why the early ‘90s CG looks as bad as it does. It wasn’t really meant to be seen in that kind of quality. The first disc is the movie itself with two separate audio commentary tracks, one of which includes Michael Madsen, Natasha Henstridge and director Roger Donaldson that I recommend checking out. The second disc is home to all of the special features, like the interviews and behind the scenes looks (which there are several extensive ones included), still galleries, trailers and the alternate ending. The main and brand new featurette, Afterbirth: The Evolution of Species is a great look at the pre to post production work on the film and worth watching.
I never disliked Species, but after viewing it this time around, I think I see it in a totally different light and have a newfound appreciation for it. It wasn’t the ultra sleazy, ultra gory taboo film I remembered it being. Sure, the film touches on sleaze, but it has some class and sexiness to it. Most importantly, it has an interesting story with characters worth investing in. It’s not the greatest sci-fi/horror film out there, but hopefully with this release it gets the respect it deserves. There were three sequels, but Species II is the only one that unites the cast and worth watching. Maybe we will see a newly transferred Blu-ray release of that in the near future?
(Ho-stess’s Note: Mr. Browning’s bday was actually yesterday, but my comp got itself an STD and needed a day to recover. Can’t NOT celebrate someone so rad, though, so as always when I’m late w stuff, just #gowithit, please… 😉 xoxo)
Happy Birthday(ish ;)) to cinema’s dark ringmaster, Mr. Tod Browning! While he directed a wide variety of films in many genres, Mr. Browning is known for his many ho-orr films and bizarre melodramas. Like many of us, Browning was utterly obsessed with carnivals and circuses. So much so that he literally ran away with the circus. Tod lived the dream and traveled with many sideshows, carnivals, and circuses. Some of Browning’s jobs included being a talker for the The Wild Man of Borneo, performed a burial act as “The Living Corpse,” and performed as a clown with Ringling Brothers Circus. Browning later worked in vaudeville as an actor, dancer, and magician. Browning may have left the circus, but the circus never left him. Many of Browning’s films dealt with the sideshow in fascinating, often macabre ways. No doubt due to his eXXXperience, his circus pictures has an air of authenticity to them. Browning would hire actual sideshow performers, giving audiences a genuine taste of the beautifully unique side of show business. Of all his circus pictures, his most beloved is 1932’s Freaks, a cl-ass-sick of ho-rror sinema that’s as powerful today as it was back then. Browning often collaborated with site favorite Lon Chaney, resulting in some of the best work in both men’s careers. Between 1919 and 1929, Browning and Chaney made 10 films together, most dealing with misfits and the bizarre. Among their films was London After Midnight, the legendary lost vampire film that still fascinates and eludes horror aficionados. While they made many great films together, our favorite is 1927’s The Unknown and we recommend it to anyone who wants an introduction to their peculiar style,
The Unknown, in its entirety:
Beyond the circus pictures, Browning made other brilliant contributions to the ho-rror genre. In 1931, he directed Dracula with Bela Lugosi. The film was originally intended to be another Chaney/Browning collaboration, but Chaney sadly passed away before it could happen. However, the film we got is one of the most important American ho-rror films ever made and launched the career of another great macabre movie star. Lugosi and Browning would later sink their teeth into Mark of the Vampire, a remake of the aforementioned London After Midnight. Browning’s final fright film was The Devil Doll, a wonderfully weird picture about a cross-dressing criminal using miniaturized humans to exact his revenge. Happy Birthday, Tod! You made sinema a circus of ho-rrors! 🙂 xoxo
“I’d stay away from wasps if i were you, Mrs. Starlin. Socially the queen wasp is on the level with a Black Widow spider. They’re both carnivorous, they paralyze their victims and then take their time devouring them alive. And they kill their mates in the same way, too. Strictly a one-sided romance.”
Ho-wdy, Monster Maniacs!
We’re just buzzing with eXXXcitement about today’s creature feature! It’s a stinging work of terror from the King of the Bs, Mr. Roger Corman! Can your heart withstand the shocking ho-rror of… Released in 1959, The Wasp Woman tells the story of Janice Starlin, played by Susan Cabot. Ms. Starlin is the founder, owner, and spokeswoman for a large cosmetics company. When her company’s sales begin to plummet, her aging appearance is blamed for their decline. In a desperate attempt to appear young, she becomes the willing guinea pig for an eXXXperiment that uses the jelly of the queen wasp to reverse the aging process. Of corpse, it goes wrong and we’re treated to some cl-ass-sick monster madness! Okay, so the plot’s a little groan-worthy (feminist, it ain’t) and it’s more than a little goofy, but this film is a really groovy creepy cheapie. Susan Cabot is actually pretty compelling as the were-insect, and the rest of cast is good(ish ;)). It’s been called one of the “worst movies ever,” but that’s hardly fair. While I do wish it had more of the tit-ular creature, what we do see is spooky stuff. Bonus points for Susan Cabot actually being in the mask! Feel the sting of The Wasp Woman below:
SIDE NOTE: We also rec checking out the 1995 remake with the dreamiest of Dream Warriors, the incomparable Ms. Jennifer Rubin. 🙂 xoxo
WARNING TO ALL YE WHO ENTERETH: This post contains #SPOILERS. Just scroll on down to the Marvel Universe Live stuffs if that sorta thing upsets ya. 🙂
(Review submitted with all the love by our Superheroic Ho-mie, Prince Adam…Thank you, Super Sir! 🙂 xoxo)
“Several months after the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker, with the help of his mentor Tony Stark, tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in Queens, New York City while fighting crime as his superhero alter ego Spider-Man as a new threat, the Vulture, emerges.” (Sony/Marvel)
After his fantastically energetic extended cameo in Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man gets his first solo film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We get two prologues before hitting “present day”, which as stated, is several months after Civil War. The first prologue is set shortly after the first Avengers film. We see Adrian Toomes and his cleanup crew, removing debris and alien technology from the destruction sites. We see that he is so excited by landing this government job, because it puts food on the table for his wife and daughter, as well as providing for his whole crew. However, they lose the contract when Tony Stark funds the government owned “Damage Control”, to clean up super heroic messes and such. We then see a flash forward to present day, where we learn and see that Adrian Toomes and crew have been stealing weaponry from superhero/supervillain skirmishes, propagating some for themselves, and selling other weaponry to criminals on the black market. Meanwhile, the flashback with Peter Parker/Spider-Man, actually ties into his appearance in Civil War. The flashbacks are actually self-shot home movies, of his “trip” to Berlin. You actually see him getting his upgraded suit from Tony Stark via Happy Hogan, as well as P.O.V. shots of the airport battle in Civil War. These are a way to catch the audience up on where we last saw Peter, but done in an inventive and unique way. These flashbacks are great because they show us our villain’s motivations for what he is doing, and give us a glimpse into how much Peter Parker loves being Spider-Man.
Our main story picks up with Peter Parker being left back in Queen’s and dealing with being a high school student, while also dealing with being a Spider-Man that has to deal with more street level crime. First of all, I love that this film really stayed in Queen’s as much as it could. It gave this film a much more intimate feeling over previous installments. Peter Parker being in high school felt like a naturalistic part of his daily routine, as opposed to being scenes that were shoehorned into the other films because the character was supposed to be 15. I think it helps, that the actor playing our hero, as well as his classmates were actually teenaged, as opposed to Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, who both had Wellingitis. That is to say, they were both 25, cast to play a 15 year old, just as Tom Welling was on Smallville. I also appreciated that this iteration of Peter Parker wasn’t overtly geeky, or overly hipster, like our previous versions of Peter Parker. Tom Holland plays an average teenager who takes his high school happenings and everyday situations to the extreme, and makes everything seem like the biggest deal and sometimes the end of the world. Peter Parker’s best friend in this is Ned played by Jacob Batalon. The character as played by the actor, is the quintessential best bud and sidekick. The character is a gamer and total Star Wars fanboy. Sure, the idea that the two friends spend their after school time building a LEGO Death Star, felt a little all too obvious and convenient, given the Marvel/Disney and Disney/Star Wars connection, but it felt like something two modern day teen fanboys would absolutely do. There is no spider-bite or death of Uncle Ben in this film. Instead, that sort of exposition, comes from Ned, once he accidentally discovers Peter Parker is Spider-Man. We learn of the spider bite and Peter’s abilities through Ned’s endless questions. The exchanges are so naturalistic yet humorous. There’s a lot of humor in this film, yet never once does it go overboard like Guardians of the Galaxy 2, or feel forced like in the Thor movies. Liz Allen played by Laura Harrier is the object of Peter Parker’s affection in this film. She is the popular girl, with a type A personality. Sure, she and Peter admit that they both liked each other and went to the homecoming dance together but I never felt a spark, or connection between these characters. No offence to the actress, she did okay with what was asked of her. Story wise, once we learn that Liz Allen is really Liz Toomes, daughter of the Vulture, any chance the two had at a relationship was gone. I really did like the character of Michelle played by Zendaya. This character is very intellectual and is a bit of a loner, playing it off as if she doesn’t really care about hanging out, or being around her classmates. She’s a bit of an introvert, who is lost in her reading. The banter and animosity between she and Peter, gives off a vibe of a love/hate relationship, which definitely hints at something more later on. Flash Thompson is played by Tony Revolori. This Flash is not the big hulking jock of a bully like in previous installments, or the comic books. Instead, he’s more of a verbal insulter, who tries to break Peter down emotionally, not physically. He’s still a sleaze bag. The young actor plays that well and you won’t be able to stand him over the course of the film.
Marisa Tomei, returns from her Civil War role of Aunt May. This Aunt May is more active in the film and in Peter’s life. We see very simple scenes of them sharing a family dinner. You even see her helping him learn how to do a tie, teaching him how to dance, and giving him pointers how to treat Liz on their homecoming date. Marisa Tomei seems to be playing this younger version of Aunt May as a big sister, which makes sense, given the smaller age gap between the two actors. Though, Marisa Tomei does let the parental Aunt mode kick in, when Peter gets home late and hasn’t been answering his phone. She raises her voice at him, telling him he can’t do that and that between the two of them, that’s not okay. Even though Uncle Ben isn’t mentioned by name, the tone in her voice and the pain in her face, clearly makes it know, this reaction is a reaction to Ben’s death. It’s really powerful acting by Marisa Tomei. As was known when this project was announced and as the trailers went out of their way to point out, Robert Downey Jr. is in this film as Tony Stark/Iron-Man. He’s at his snarky, fast talking best in this film. The trailers for this film had me worried that this film would turn into Iron-Man 4, featuring Spider-Man. However, happily, that’s not the case at all. We see Iron-Man as a mentor/father figure/ big brother to Peter Parker. You can tell that Tony Stark has a love for Peter, but in typical Stark fashion, he’ll never outright admit it. He gave Peter the costume upgrade, to make him a more effective hero but also to keep him safe. Yet still, he tells Peter to stay safe, by sticking close to home grown, street level issues. The suit upgrades include different shapes and modes of webbing. The spider symbol is actually a mini drone/ tracker. There’s also an interrogation mode, which allows Peter to disguise his voice a la Batman, to intimidate his enemies. There’s a lethal mode, to deal with the extremely dangerous villains and lest we forget, the web wings from the early comic books, which allow him to glide. I thought all these enhancements by Tony to the costume would minimize Peter Parker’s intelligence but the way Robert Downey Jr. and the film itself handles it, is just Tony being overprotective. In fact, the film makes a point to show Peter’s intelligence, by showing him secretly brewing his webbing in science class. We also see Peter disabling the trackers and security measures Tony put into the Spider-Man costume. Iron-Man does save and assists Spider-Man twice in the film but it never feels like belittling and minimizing the character to me. His biggest contribution happens of screen, after he realizes that Peter is too reliant on the costume and its gadgets, so he takes it away. This forces Peter to go back to his homemade costume and find the hero within, which he ultimately does. While this is a Spider-Man film, Tony Stark does seems to resolve some father issues he had in Civil War and there is even a progression of his relationship with Pepper Potts that carries over from that film, which I won’t spoil.
Nearly all of the action beats are tied to our villain, Adrian Toomes, aka the Vulture, played by Michael Keaton. As hard as it is for me to see Michael Keaton as anything but Batman or Beetlejuice, he is absolutely fantastic as the Vulture. He’s easily the best villain in the MCU since Loki and he might even be better than Loki. As I mentioned earlier, the cleanup contract is so important to him, as he’s trying to provide for his family, as are his crew. When he loses that contract to the joint venture of Stark Industries and the government, he feels pushed aside and stepped on by “the man.” This is why he hates The Avengers and turns to the black market to sell stolen alien weaponry. He’s not a one dimensional, over the top, mustache twirling villain, which has become the norm in the MCU. What the script and Michael Keaton convey so well, is that while Adrian Toomes motivations are relatable, his actions remain 100% wrong and the viewer never over sympathizes with him. This is a mistake the Sam Raimi films made with Dock Ock and Sandman. They became too sympathetic, to the point where I gave their actions a pass. While Michael Keaton was great throughout, his best scene happens with Peter Parker when both men are out of costume. I won’t spoil it but I guarantee it will make your spine tingle. Michael Keaton is particularly chilling in this scene. The Vulture’s crew introduces other villains, namely the Shocker and the Prowler. They’re not overly developed. They’re more in service to the Vulture, which I prefer. The Prowler is of course the uncle of Miles Morales. There is a small nod to him in the film, which could open the door for Ultimate Spider-Man in the future of the MCU.
In addition to Peter Parker, Tom Holland excels as his costumed alter-ego Spider-Man. He’s got the inherent goodness and altruistic nature that Tobey Maguire had and he’s got the incessant quipping, which was present in Andrew Garfield’s take on the character. Mixed in with Tom Holland’s youthful excitement and energy and what you have is the most screen accurate Spider-Man to his comic book counterpart, when it comes to live action portrayals. The action scenes aren’t just randomly inserted into this film to fill an action quota, instead they service and enhance our hero’s journey. What’s also unique is that Spider-Man is wearing his fancy superhero attire, in the first two acts, when he is more of an unpolished hero, while wearing his makeshift home-made costume for the third act, when he becomes the full-fledged hero. Usually, it’s the other way around in superhero films. The early action beats are definitely smaller scale. We see Spider-Man stopping a bike theft, bank robbery, and we even see him giving an elderly lady directions. There’s situational humor present in the film when Spider – Man seemingly thwarts a car robbery but in fact, it was just a guy who’d been locked out of his car. The way the onlookers yelled at Spidey and defended their neighbors innocence, really sold the tight knit community feel of this Queen’s neighborhood. Also, Stan Lee gets a rare cameo where he speaks, which is nice. When the Vulture first swoops in grabbing Spider-Man, preventing him from chasing down his crew, the frantic, up-close perspective of the scenes, looks like a brief moment that belongs in a horror film. The Ferry sequence and the plane fight with The Vulture, as well as the Washington Monument Rescue are the 3 stars of this film, as far as action goes. The Ferry Sequence has a moment were Spider-Man is trying to hold the Ferry together in one piece, His positioning, actions and pose are eerily similar to Spider-Man 2, when he tries to stop the train from crashing. The scene showcases how effective, yet inexperienced this Spider-Man is. Seeing Spider-Man crawl up the Washington monument, leap from the top of it, using his web wings to clear a helicopter was so damn epic. Not quite as epic as Superman’s first flight in Man of Steel, but a pretty close second. The plane fight between Spider-Man and the Vulture was unlike anything we’ve ever seen in a Spider-Man film. Not only do they fight inside of the plane but on top of the plane as well. It took eleven years, but we finally have a scene that surpasses the Superman Returns flight rescue. Kudos goes to the costume designer, who actually made the Vulture’s costume intimidating and menacing, as opposed to looking ridiculous like it does in the comic books.
Spider-Man: Homecoming just feels right. For the first time in six films, Spider-Man feels like he’s right where he belongs, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The plot and the reason why Spider-Man is taking on the Vulture is very straight forward. Instead, this movie focuses on getting the characters right. In this area, the film 100% succeeds. My previous favourite Spider-Man film was Spider-Man 2, however, I think Spider-Man: Homecoming slightly surpasses it. In terms of MCU solo films, this ranks 2nd, behind only the first Iron-Man. In terms of my favourite summer movies, this ranks 2nd behind Wonder Woman and is definitely a MUST SEE film.
Ho-stess’s PS- I saw SMHC last night, and agree wholeblackheartedly with Mr. P’s review…Ho-wever, I saw Marvel Universe Live on Tour today, and have to say THAT is the Marvel production we should all be talking about. #GreatestShowInTheGalaXXXy!! 🙂 xoxo
I don’t know about you cats, but I think Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated is HIGH-LY underrated!
There are more incarnations of Scooby-Doo then there are stars in the sky, but Mystery Incorporated tried to shake things up, while still staying true to the spirit of Scooby-Doo. Cl-ass-sick characters are fleshed out, the monsters are menacing, and it had a genuinely intriguing mystery element. Plus, it had a surprising dark tone. I mean… Dark!
This was a Scooby-Doo that really knew to give you the willies!
And it had monsters! By Cthulhu, did it have monsters!
Its backgrounds were simply gore-gous! I’d proudly hang any of these in my tomb! Beast of all, the show was clearly made for us fright freaks. Nearly every episode is loaded with references to the best genre media has to offer. From Twin Peaks..
…to an entire episode paying homage to War of the Gargantuas. They even include the song from the movie!
In ho-nor of this underrated cartoon, we’ve provided our absolute favorite episode! It’s one big tribute to the greatness of Vincent Price, with plenty o’ nods to the Merchant of Menace! Happy Splatterday, Kinky Ho-mies! 🙂 xoxo
When The Texas Chainsaw Massacre hit the scene in 1974, it was huge. There was nothing quite like it to say the least. No other horror movie had presented itself in that way, so the imitators were sure to follow, although none of them would really come close. In 1980, Motel Hell would come pretty close, but just misses the mark and not in a bad way. In fact, Tobe Hooper (the director of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) was originally slated to direct. Whereas TCM is dark and grisly, Motel Hell has a whole lot of charm and is quite a lot of fun… you know, for a movie about kidnapping/abducting, murder and cannibalism. As much as I love TCM, you can’t say the same thing, simply because it’s not meant to be.
Motel Hell actually feels more like a cash-in of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2, which wouldn’t happen for another five years. It’s odd that a film that didn’t intend on parodying the original TCM ended up blending horror and comedy decently that TCM2 would later also do. However, I don’t feel that Motel Hell is quite as dark as TCM2, not to take anything away from it still being a good film. In fact, Motel Hell was supposed to be much more dark with more violence and gore and included much more disturbing moments in the film, like a bestiality scene. There’s something the TCM films never had. In the end, the tone was lightened, the gore was used sparingly and what we got was still a fairly humorous and entertaining horror comedy armed with one of the best taglines, “It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent fritters!” An obvious nod at the cannibalism in the movie, but a hint at what Farmer Vincent puts in his famous smoked meats, unbeknownst to his customers.
Along with his sister Ida, Farmer Vincent (played by legendary Rory Calhoun) run the Motel Hello – which for fun acts as the title card as the “o” in “Hello” flickers dimly – where they don’t seem to get a whole lot of customers. I guess that’s okay since they are able to keep up their farm and… well now I am just thinking about how weird having a farm and a hotel next to each other is. This is getting into Eaten Alive territory, another Tobe Hooper film. You think all those bills would be stacking up, but it seems like Vincent’s famous smoked meat is so famous, people come around from all over the place just to get a taste of his smoked meat.
For those of you wondering, yes, that pun was intentional.
But what’s in those meats that makes them taste so damn good? Well, nothing but the finest ingredient… people! Vincent and Ida set traps to snare their victims, slicing their vocal cords (so they can no longer scream), plant them up to their chins in soil in a secret garden and feed them nothing but the finest feed, even if they aren’t the finest specimens. Like, would you ever think a balding, doughy health inspector who is nosing around the farm would be tasty? Vincent sure does. How about a drug addled metal group called ‘Ivan and The Terribles,’ one of which happens to be Cheers’ John Ratzenberger? He’s only in a couple scenes and I can’t remember if he even has a line of dialogue, but blink and you could miss him. Or a swinging couple that can’t sense danger when it’s literally tying them up and drugging them. Yeah, farm life is good for Vincent. Nothing quite like waking up and being your own boss, smoking your meat and having others from all over want to savor it.
Okay, I’ll stop with all the meat smoking puns. Anywho, Vincent’s life is about the change (not to make this sound like a wacky romantic comedy, but it kinda is) when a cute victim named Terry survives one of his traps. While being nursed back to health, she understandably has some questions, like “where is my boyfriend?” Vincent informs her along with the Sheriff, Bruce, who just happens to be his dimwitted brother, that he buried the body, so everyone should move on and forget about it. And that’s exactly what happens. Terry just seems to accept it and starts to fall more and more for Vincent while Bruce is falling for Terry. Oh boy, love triangles! Except, this is kinda like a hillbilly one, so you know at some point somebody will be pointing a shotgun at somebody.
Let’s talk about Bruce for a moment. Bruce is the comedic relief in a film that is about half comedy, so needless to say that he’s probably gonna get under your skin at some point. He also comes off as possessive and stalker-ish when it comes to Terry and I know, it’s supposed to be cute and charming, but when he’s forcing himself onto her and trying to make out with her while she screams and begs for him to stop, it’s kinda hard to want to support your lead.
Rejecting Bruce and growing closer with Vincent, even Ida begins to grow jealous of her, even going as far as attempting to drown her. She’s saved by Vincent which pretty much guarantees him a ticket to Bone City, but Vincent suggests that they should be married first and she agrees. Clearly this upsets Bruce so much that he actually goes and does actual cop stuff, like investigate the scene of the accident, even though it’s, like, days or weeks later. Hey, better late than never. Meanwhile, Vincent and Ida are immediately drugging Terry so that she passes out, allowing them to get to work. So, do they plan on doing this to her every night, because it’s going to get suspicious sooner or later, right? Luckily, Vincent plans on showing her the ancient art of smoking meat, a skill that is sure to come in handy on their honeymoon. If she doesn’t go along with it, at least they can always cook her too. Unless Bruce can stop them in time and I don’t blame anyone who doesn’t have faith in him.
Look, it all boils down to a gnarly chainsaw fight between Bruce and Farmer Vincent who is wearing a giant pig’s head. The movie is awesome just for this iconic scene alone, but luckily it’s very entertaining throughout the entire movie and Farmer Vincent is a likable character even if he isn’t doing the right thing, even if he believes he is. He’s a well developed enough of a character that you kinda follow along with him, which is a good thing, because this is his movie. You spend some time with the other characters, but not enough to get to know them outside of the single trait they are given. Except Bruce who comes off as a bumbling buffoon pervert.
However, I can’t say the same about the horror aspect. It’s a film about turning people into food and yet it’s not scary. Hell, it seems like it’s barely the trappings. Even films like Blood Diner explore (or in that case, exploit) the idea of cannibalism and make it visceral, somewhat painful and gory. In Motel Hell, the characters kinda mention it here and there, although occasionally some human carcasses or limbs can be seen. I don’t know if they were hoping it would have the same impact that Quint’s speech from Jaws would have, but the horror element in this film seems a little lackluster. Same can be said about most of the humor and being a horror comedy, like Evil Dead 2 and Blood Diner, they could have really explored using the splat-stick angle (after all, we are talking about people becoming smoked meat), but the film shies away from that as well.
I still like the film, quite a bit actually. I think it’s an honest attempt at a horror comedy and although I don’t think it’s the best example nor does it reach its potential in either genre, it still does both well. A few years ago, Scream Factory released a newly restored Blu-ray that looks fantastic and comes with enough special features to cram your meathole, like Audio Commentary with director Kevin Connor, moderated by filmmaker Dave Parker, The Making of MOTEL HELL featuring interviews with director Kevin Connor, producers/writers Robert Jaffe and Steven Charles Jaffe and actor Marc Silver, Ida, Be Thy Name: A look back at MOTEL HELL’s frightful female protagonist Ida Smith, Another Head on the Chopping Block: An interview with actor Paul Linke, From Glamour to Gore: An interview with actress Rosanne Katon, as well as a theatrical trailer and a still gallery. It also was given some great new artwork.
It’s an idea that was fully realized, but once the studio thought it would be too weird, they backed down and what you get is a watered down version of that vision, but at least that still entertaining. Especially that chainsaw fight.
Yes, creeps, I’m proud to be an A-Scare-ican! I mean, we have produced some of the grooviest monster media ever! America brought us the Universal Monster films, Halloween, Scream,The Exorcist, Jaws, Freaks, Scream 2… and others! 😉 Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft were born here, along with EC Comics, William Castle, and Vincent Price! Yes, other countries have produced some most eXXXcellent horror, but I’m thrilled to be part of country with such a rich history of spookiness!
Skullebrate the day! Start with a Fourth-tastic fright flick…Might I suggest I Know What You Did Last Summer, the scariest 4th of July cl-ass-sick of them all?
It’s the kind of awesomely ’90s slasherpiece that helped to make America spooky cool. How can you go wrong with a movie that features a murderous fisherman with a hook, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and this bit o’ awesome…
Plus, it makes good use of the Ho-rrorday…
IKWYDLS is sincerely required Independence Day viewing in my Book of Shadows! 😉
After the movie, listen to some patriotic music…
And then take in some monster fireworks…
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all ghouls are created groovy, that they are endowed with certain unalienable frights, that among these are awesome monster movies, eXXXcellent terror, and the pursuit of creepiness!
It’s another frightfully delightful Saturday morning, so you know what that means…. For this positively patriotic party, we’re bringin’ out one big ol’ star! Ladies and Gentleman, Mr. Bugs Bunny! We all know Bugs Bunny is the greatest cross-dressin’, wise-crackin’ wabbit in all of cartoondom… but did you know that he served in the American Revolutionary War? Well, we here at KH are here to educate ya! 🙂 In 1950’s Bunker Hill Bunny, American Minuteman Bugs Bunny defends his fort against Hessian Red Coat Yosemite Sam. And Boy Ho-wdy! You better believe some cartoon shenanigans ensue! 🙂 This ‘toon is cl-ass-ic Looney Tunes in conceivable way, with all the sight gags, eXXXplosions, and Mel Blanc-age a ghoul could possibly want! The short’s superbly funny and the comedic timing is spot-on! Bunker Hill Bunny isn’t one that gets talked about a lot, but it’s simple, looney perfection. It’s the kind of cartoon violence that makes you proud to be an American! Who knew History was this awesome? (Answer: Everyone who’s ever seen 1776, bitches!! 😉 xoxo) Check out the looney lesson in historical happenings via the big black boXXX below: