April 30, 2020


Starring Blake Lively, Jude Law, Sterling K. Brown, Max Casella, Daniel Mays, Geoff Bell, Richard Brake. Directed by Reed Morano. (109 min)

Review by Tiger the Terrible😼

Though it will never be mistaken for a great film, there are two things that make The Rhythm Section worth checking out.

First, it features a believable protagonist. Since losing her entire family in a plane crash, Stephanie Patrick (Blake Lively) has descended into prostitution and drug addiction. Then she meets a reporter who claims the plane crash was a terrorist attack and has evidence provided by ex-MI-6 operative Iain Boyd (Jude Law). After the reporter is murdered, she takes his research and seeks Boyd’s help in avenging her family. He reluctantly agrees to train her to strike back at the organization responsible.

But Stephanie doesn’t morph into a fearless, indestructible supersoldier. Throughout the entire film, she is clearly in over her head and screws up a lot, sometimes making things worse. Dumb luck saves her more often than any acquired skills, which makes some of the action sequences feel a bit more down-to-earth than those in similar films.

"Lady, you suck at Hide & Seek."
Second, Blake Lively goes all-in with a dedicated performance. She effectively displays the hopelessness, nihilism, anger and wrath required for Stephanie to be convincing. Considering her statuesque beauty, I suspect the temptation to turn her into another Atomic Blonde was strong, but aside from a brief – and pointless – scene where she poses as a high-end call girl, Lively looks suitably strung-out, weary and beaten down by life.

She’s the only interesting character in a film that loses focus about half-way through, when it strays from being a straight revenge thriller and throws in unnecessary plot turns, even briefly turning Stephanie into a killer-for-hire. Once she starts trotting the globe like some kind of grunge-era assassin, the story grows increasingly convoluted, to say nothing of implausible.

Narrative quibbles aside, The Rhythm Section may be unremarkable, but it’s certainly watchable on a dull evening (which we all have plenty of, right now). Blake Lively makes her character compelling enough to keep things interesting during the duller stretches, while director Reed Morano strings together a few nifty action scenes.

FEATURETTES - “Stephanie’s Journey”; “Fight or Flight”; “Never Leave Second Gear”; “One-Shot Explosion”; “Designing The Rhythm Section.”

April 28, 2020


Featuring Tom Kenny, Roger Bumpass, Bill Fagerbakke, Clancy Brown, Mr. Lawrence, Carolyn Lawrence, Jill Talley, P!nk, Lux Interior, David Hasselhoff, CeeLo Green. Various directors. (134 min)

Review by Stinky the Destroyer😸

Both of my kids grew up on SpongeBob Squarepants. One is now in college, the other halfway through high school, but they still tune-in on occasion because it’s still shown on Nickelodeon – like, all the time – and sometimes they’re in a nostalgic mood (I always thought you had to be over 30 to feel that way).

So as a father, I ended up watching a lot of SpongeBob whether I wanted to or not. But unlike other torturous examples of children’s entertainment I’ve been forced to endure over the years in the name of love, SpongeBob Squarepants was funny, clever and just a bit subversive, particularly during the earlier seasons. Being a seven-year-old wasn’t necessarily a requirement to enjoy it.

Like other long-running shows past their prime, SpongeBob’s glory days are in the rearview mirror, but it still manages manage to knock one out of the park on occasion, such as the centerpiece of this party-themed collection, “SpongeBob’s Big Birthday Blowout.” Running 45 minutes, it originally aired on Nick as a special to celebrate the show’s 20th anniversary. The story has Patrick taking SpongeBob on a guided tour of “Surface World” to keep him out of the house while his other friends set-up a surprise party. Part animation, part live-action, the episode is full of congenial silliness, including one wonderful scene where the main voice actors appear onscreen as their characters’ landlubbing counterparts.

Directed by Salvador Dali.
Padding-out the disc are “Party Pooper Pants” (an extended episode listed as “SpongeBob’s House Party”), two shorts “Sun Bleached” & “The Slumber Party,” and “Truth of Square,” which is an hour-long special celebrating the show’s 10th anniversary. There are some amusing cameos here and there, including Lux Interior from The Cramps (RIP), Keanu Reeves, P!nk and CeeLo Green. However, “Truth of Square” feels unnecessarily padded-out by idiotic live-action segments featuring Patchy the Pirate (Tom Kenny). Sorry, kids, but that character was never funny.

While there’s certainly no shortage of SpongeBob Squarepants compilations on DVD, Bikini Bottom Bash is worth picking up for the 20th anniversary special alone, which is frequently as funny as anything from the series’ early years. The other episodes are decent enough filler, though I suspect hardcore fans either already have them on disc or know 'em by heart.


April 27, 2020


Available on DVD 4/28
This rockin’ compilation boasts five uproarious party-themed episodes, including SpongeBob’s Big Birthday Blowout, which ranked as the #1 show for the year across kid networks among K2-11, K6-11, K9-14 and K12-17.  It’s SpongeBob’s birthday, but it’s a surprise, so SpongeBob and Patrick are going on a tour of the surface world while everyone else plans the birthday blowout below. Then, Bikini Bottom throws a wave of other parties: Catch some rays with SpongeBob and Patrick to get into the biggest bash in town, enjoy a girls’ night in at Pearl’s sleepover, raise the pineapple’s roof at SpongeBob’s house party, and celebrate the Krusty Krab’s momentous eleventy-seventh anniversary! Let’s par-tay! The mixed live-action and animation special features the celebrated voice cast behind SpongeBob, Patrick, Mr. Krabs, Sandy, Squidward and Plankton playing human versions of their animated characters and guest star David Hasselhoff (Baywatch). Additional guest stars in the special include Kel Mitchell (All That), Jack Griffo (The Thundermans) and Daniella Perkins (Knight Squad).

TO ENTER: Simply drop us a message at freekittensmovieguide@gmail.com.

April 26, 2020

THE DARK RED: Mombo's Revenge

Starring April Billingsley, Kelsey Scott, Conal Byrne, Rhoda Griffis, John Curran. Directed by Dan Bush. (98 min)

Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat😽

Writer-director Dan Bush’s previous film, The Vault, was a derivative but entertaining ghost story/heist thriller mash-up. Similarly, The Dark Red wears its influences on its sleeve, though it’s more of a slow-burner throughout most of the running time, building up to a rousing but predictable climax.

Sybil (April Billingsley) just lost her baby. All records indicate it was stillborn, but she’s convinced it was snatched away at birth. No one believes her, including Dr. Deluce (Kelsey Scott), the psychiatrist listening to Sybil’s wild story of falling in love with a guy named David Hollyfield (Conal Byrne), who gets her pregnant and brings her home to meet the folks. But it turns out the Hollyfields are part of a powerful cult who harvest “special” babies whose blood gives them supernatural abilities.

Grounded again.
This is all told in flashback from the psychiatric hospital where Sybil’s been committed. Of course, anyone who’s ever seen a film about a desperate mother knows what comes next: Her story is true and she’s on her own to get her baby back. After getting out of the hospital – with remarkable ease – Sybil turns into "Mombo"...kicking ass, taking names and revealing some remarkable powers of her own.

The Dark Red doesn’t bring much new to the table, but it’s well-acted and the deliberate pace helps establish Sybil as a sympathetic character who’s easy to rally behind. By the time the story kicks into high gear – roughly the final half-hour – we’re more than ready for her to dispatch the kind of justice only Mombo can deliver. You’ll more than likely see every punch coming from a mile away, but watching it unfold is still enjoyable.


April 23, 2020



Though his eyes were still thick with sleep, Tom couldn’t help but notice the massive hole in the middle of his front yard the second he opened the garage door. He scowled, angrily retying his bathrobe. A blue Lexus hummed past, indifferent to the sudden blight on his grass.

Son-of-a-bitch,” Tom spat. “Gophers.”

He bitterly grabbed his trash can and dragged it to the end of the drive, staring in disgust at the unsightly hole the entire time. He’d just reseeded the entire damn yard in the spring, shortly after he and his wife bought the place. A whole weekend of labor undone by a worthless, wily rodent.

After dropping off the trash, he gingerly tip-toed across the lawn to the hole. Morning dew flitted from the grass with each step, dampening his slippers and dotting his bare ankles with tiny drops. Hands on hips, he surveyed the damage. Surrounded by a ring of unearthed soil, it resembled a recently-erupted volcano. Tom peered into the cavernous black abyss, thinking the mother of all gophers must be living beneath his property.

Say, Tom,” a familiar voice greeted from behind. “How goes the battle?”

Tom turned to see his neighbor, Herb Blisard, jogging in-place on the sidewalk. The old man flashed a congenial smile as he removed his earphones and wiped sweat from his forehead. He was dressed in the same too-snug blue sweats and Oregon Ducks T-shirt he wore for every morning run.

The battle?” He replied as he aimed a rigid finger at the vandalism in the middle of his yard. “That’s how the battle goes. Goddamn gophers.”

Herb stopped jogging and slowly exhaled, regarding the hole with a serious face.

Tom slowly shook his head and sighed. “Can you believe it? In a neighborhood like this? Homes starting at 400K, a Lexus in every driveway, a barbecue on every patio, in-ground sprinklers, and all it takes for my property to look like White Trash Central is a pea-brained rodent. Now I gotta run to Home Depot to get rid of the little bastards.”

As if on cue, Reggie Bannister, a neighbor from two houses down, sped by in his silver Lexus, throwing a friendly hand out the window on his way to work.

Gophers?” Herb mused, stepping up onto the lawn to join Tom. Also putting his hands on his hips, he studied the cavernous hole for several seconds. “It ain’t gophers, Tom. Hole’s too big for gophers. Looks like you’ve got zombies.”

Tom’s eye grew huge. “Zombies? How could I have zombies?”

Herb chuckled knowingly. “First time home-owner, huh? Let me guess…your realtor conveniently forgot to inform you this neighborhood was developed on top of sacred burial ground.”

Tom stared back dumbly.

Yeah, that figures. Hard to sell homes built atop dead people, but it doesn’t instill much trust in your agent, does it?”

Tom’s face sank as he stared ominously into the hole. “Zombies. This is worse than gophers.” He buried his face in his hands.

Herb slapped him on the back. “Not really, Tom. Gophers usually burrow back into the ground only to pop up somewhere else in your yard. Just one gopher can dig dozens of tiny holes. Zombies pop out once. So unless you’ve got a whole nest of ‘em under your yard, you’re actually pretty lucky.” He nodded down to the hole. “All you gotta do is find this one and get rid of it. You don’t want something like that hanging around. Lowers the property value.”

What makes you think a zombie would stick arou-”

A sudden, ear-piercing shriek erupted from inside Tom’s home.

Panicked, Tom gripped Herb’s arm, noticing the gate leading to the back yard was ajar. “Oh, God. Nicole!”

Herb suddenly pulled a handgun from the waistline of his too-snug sweats and charged forward. “Come on!”

Feeling helpless, Tom sprinted after his neighbor, following him into the back yard.

Both suddenly stopped.

On the patio, gurgling and groaning as it pounded the sliding-glass door with moist, gelatinous hands, was the pasty gray corpse that had clawed its way out of Tom's front yard. Strings of yellow drool dangled from its jaws. Chunks of soil and flesh fell from its bones and plopped to the concrete with each strike of the glass. Tom’s wife, wearing the fuzzy pink robe he gave her a few Christmases ago, stood screaming on the other side of the door, hands flailing in terror.

Nicole!” Tom cried.

The corpse reared its head toward Herb and Tom. Both eyes were gone; oozing black sockets stared back. Its mouth fell open as it suddenly shambled toward them, knocking over the gas grill Tom spent an hour cleaning last weekend.

Herb drew careful aim, cocked the hammer and squeezed the trigger. The blast was deafening, scaring a few sparrows from some nearby trees. The ghoul’s head exploded, spattering the nearby wall of Tom’s $400K house with blood, brains and shattered skull. The rest of the body collapsed in a wet heap.

Slowly exhaling, Herb lowered the gun and tucked it back into his sweats. “There...problem solved, buddy.”

As Nicole offered them both an exasperated look before throwing the curtains closed, Tom said, “Thanks, Herb, I appreciate it. But what if I got a bunch of the ’em under my yard?”

Herb clapped Tom’s shoulder with one hand and patted the butt of his gun with the other. “My friend, not every lawn tool can be found at Home Depot.” He looked over and noticed the nearby pond Tom had recently spent a weekend digging. “Though I do suggest getting some fencing for that thing. Goddamn racoons ate all the Koi in my pond.”

Rest in Peace, Shirley Knight

April 22, 2020

PARAMOUNT PRESENTS is Off to a Good Start


Review by Mr. Paws😸

Paramount Presents is a new Blu-ray series consisting of some of the studio’s iconic films, each repackaged, remastered and bundled with a combination of new and vintage bonus features.

Of the first wave of titles, two have been available on Blu-ray for years, but the improved picture and sound might by worth double-dipping. The third is a must-own for any Blu-ray fan who’s ever swiveled their hips to an Elvis tune. In addition to extras carried over from previous releases, each film includes a new bonus feature, “Filmmaker Focus,” a brief retrospective analysis of the movie in question.

But for me, the niftiest aspect is the packaging. Unless significantly different from the box art, I personally think slipcases are a waste of cardboard. But these fold-open to reveal the film’s original poster art, which is pretty creative. This stuff is gonna look great on my shelf!

Starring Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Jessie Royce Landis, John Williams. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. (106 min)

Hey, you can’t go wrong with the team of Alfred Hitchcock, Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. To Catch a Thief doesn’t quite rank up there with North by Northwest (then again, what does?). Still, this romantic thriller remains a lot of freewheeling fun, with Grant as John “The Cat” Robie, a retired jewel thief trying to clear his name after becoming the prime suspect in recent burglaries similar to his old modus operandi. He meets his match with Frances (Grace Kelly) - daughter of the mysterious thief’s next potential target – who knows more about Robie than she initially leads on.

To Catch a Thief is atypical Hitchcock for the time, with a bit less emphasis on the suspense-thriller aspects that most of his other films have in abundance. Here, the sexual tension and quasi-adversarial relationship between John and Frances take center stage. And why not? The chemistry of the two stars is undeniable and it’s a shame they never did more films together. But even they are occasionally upstaged by Jessie Royce Landis, who steals every scene she’s in as Frances’ bemused mother.

"FILMMAKER FOCUS” - A new discussion of the film by Leonard Maltin.
"BEHIND THE GATES” - Carried over from a previous release, historians and industry wags discuss the two stars’ onscreen chemistry.
AUDIO COMMENTARY – By film historian Drew Casper

Starring Elvis Presley, Carolyn Jones, Walter Matthau, Vic Morrow, Delores Hart, Dean Jagger. Directed by Michael Curtiz. (115 min)

Believe or it not, some classic film collectors might consider King Creole to be the real keeper of the three, since it’s new to Blu-ray. That aside, it’s also one of Elvis Presley’s best films, made before his sad descent into self-parody and movie mediocrity. Much of that is due to a terrific supporting cast and sharp direction by Michael (Casablanca) Curtiz. Though there are plenty of great songs, King Creole isn’t a musical in the purest sense. The musical numbers are stage performances in the film, which has Presley playing a headstrong, semi-delinquent young singer who gets in over his head with local gangster Maxie Fields (Walter Matthau).

Far more story-driven than the typical Elvis vehicle, Curtis makes great use of New Orleans locations and the decision to shoot it in black & white gives it a dark edge similar to film noir. Though I’ve never been a huge fan of Presley’s music or acting abilities, he’s actually really good here, holding his own against the likes of Matthau, Carolyn Jones as Maxie’s jaded mistress, Vic Morrow as a conniving thug and Dean Jagger as Danny’s emotionally fragile father. Considering Presley’s mostly-dubious film career, King Creole is a small winner all-around.

"FILMMAKER FOCUS” - A new discussion of the film by Leonard Maltin.

Starring Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Anne Archer, Ellen Hamilton Latzen, Stuart Pankin, Fred Gwynne. Directed by Adrian Lyne. (119 min)

Since Paramount Pictures pretty-much owned the 1980s, it’s fitting to include a film from that era in the first wave of this series. Being that it was both a critical and box office smash – as well as a cultural touchstone – Fatal Attraction is a superlative choice.

Though it may be hard to appreciate today, Fatal Attraction was not-only hugely influential at the time, it firmly established Michael Douglas as a genuine A-Lister and – however briefly – Glenn Close as a sex symbol (albeit a dangerously loony one). Being that it was considered the ultimate argument against marital infidelity, a running joke back then had the film scaring scores of straying spouses into sticking closer to home.

Though time, parodies and countless imitators have probably diminished its impact over the years, Fatal Attraction remains one of the decade’s quintessential erotic thrillers.

"FILMMAKER FOCUS” - A new discussion of the film, this time by director Adrian Lyne.
AUDIO COMMENTARY – By director Adrian Lyne.
ALTERNATE ENDING – The much-discussed original ending, which test audiences apparently hated.

While the films speak for themselves, Paramount Presents is an aesthetically fun new series, obviously intended for those of us who take great pride in showing-off how we blow our discretionary income. For the sake of uniformity, each title is also designated by a series number on a black spine. Whether or not every movie will be worth picking up remains to be seen, but the series is off to a good start.


April 21, 2020

VAULT OF HORROR and a Case of Deja Vu

This essay originally appeared in the book, Strange Blood: 71 Essays on Offbeat and Underrated Vampire Movies.

Starring Daniel Massey, Terry-Thomas, Curd Jurgens, Michael Craig, Tom Baker, Anna Massey, Glynis Johns, Dawn Addams. Directed by Roy Ward Baker. (83 min)

Essay by D.M. ANDERSON💀

Ever since being blown away by Reservoir Dogs back in 1992, I've been a huge Quentin Tarantino fan. While he's not the world's most prolific director, I've loved nearly every film he's made, my favorite being Pulp Fiction. In my humble opinion, it is the second greatest film of all time, right behind Jaws (nothing will ever top that one, folks).

I think most fans would concur that one constant in Tarantino's entire body of work would have to be his penchant for engaging in thievery. Without getting into specifics, he's made a career out of paying homage to - and borrowing liberally from - his favorite films, directors and genres, repackaging them with hip dialogue, cool characters and obscure pop culture references. In the process, he's made a series of films that manage to appeal to cinephiles who normally wouldn't be caught dead watching an exploitation film. It's almost impossible to view any Tarantino film without experiencing a sense of deja vu. But in his defense, he's almost always given credit where it's due and worn his influences proudly.

That being said, I felt similar deja vu halfway through From Dusk 'Tll Dawn. Though directed by Robert Rodriguez, the story and screenplay is pure Tarantino, particularly the first half, with George Clooney and Quentin himself playing the Gecko brothers, two brutal bank robbers who take a family hostage on their way to the Mexican border. They're supposed to meet their contact at a remote strip club - the Titty Twister - at dawn. But in the most abrupt narrative shift in movie history, the place turns out to be a haven for vampires.

Sitting in the theater with my wife, I remember thinking this turn of events seemed awfully familiar. Not to take anything away from the movie itself; From Dusk 'Till Dawn is the best Tarantino film he didn't actually direct...smart, funny, sexy, bloody as hell and brimming with his inimitable brand of quotable dialogue. Still, I was sure I'd seen something very much like this before, a fuzzy childhood memory of a guy who wanders into a restaurant without realizing he's the main course. I remembered being scared enough to fire-up my trusty ol' night-light before going to bed, but for the life of me, I couldn't recall what movie it was, if indeed it was a movie at all.

Fast-forward a few years, when I was looking to expand my DVD collection by digging through a Wal-Mart budget bin. Even today, you can occasionally find some great stuff there, and on this particular trip, I came across an old childhood favorite, 1972's Tales from the Crypt, packaged as a double-feature with Vault of Horror, which I'd never heard of.

Tales from the Crypt is a British film from Amicus Productions. Founded by American producers Milton Subotsky and Max Rosenberg, the studio was Hammer Films' main rival during the 60s and 70s, churning out dozens of similarly-styled horror films (and keeping directors like Freddie Francis & Roy Ward Baker gainfully employed). Though they dabbled in several sci-fi and horror subgenres, Amicus' specialty was anthology films consisting of thematically-similar shorter pieces linked by a framing story and featuring a variety of well-known British actors. 
The stories in both Tales from the Crypt and Vault of Horror are pulled, of course, from William M. Gaines' legendary - and controversial - horror comics of the 1950. Most of them are supernatural tales of revenge and karmic retribution, with unsavory main characters who generally get exactly what's coming to them: violent and ironic demise. As such, both movies serve up generous amounts of black humor to go along with the horror
Aesthetically, these two films are undoubtedly products of their time, but the stories still hold up pretty well. Watching Tales from the Crypt all these years later, what once disturbed me was now a fond, fun trip down memory lane. And as it turned out, so was Vault of Horror
I had seen this movie before.

With the same anthology format and source material, Vault of Horror is generally considered a sequel to Tales from the Crypt (in some regions, it was even released as Tales from the Crypt II or Further Tales from the Crypt). The linking story has five strangers who enter an elevator, which descends and lets them off in what appears to be a gentlemen's club. As the doors close behind them, one man notices there's no outside button to retrieve the elevator. The only ones in the room, they settle around a table and eventually take turns sharing their recurring nightmares with the others. These dreams comprise the stories, which of course are not dreams at all, but the unpleasant ways each man met his untimely - though mostly deserved - demise.

The first and shortest story, "Midnight Mess," is also the most effective. Harold (Daniel Massey) is a greedy heir to a family fortune that he doesn't want to share with his estranged sister, Donna (Anna Massey, Daniel's real-life sibling). After killing the detective he hired to locate her, Harold heads to the village where she's living in order to kill her, too. It's a small, eerily quiet town, the streets nearly devoid of human activity. When Harold arrives and stops by a nearby restaurant, the waiter informs him they are closed, even though it's still early evening. 
Harold arrives at Donna's door. After she reluctantly lets him in, Harold slams her against a wall and drives a dagger into her heart. Nefarious mission apparently accomplished, he quickly leaves. It's dark now, and the restaurant that wouldn't serve him earlier is now open and filled with customers. He ventures back over, where he is promptly seated. Without being offered a menu, the waiter brings the first course, a 'soup' which Harold finds repulsive. When the waiter asks how he would like his main course - roasted blood clots - Harold realizes the stuff in his bowl isn't soup. The other patrons all turn to stare at him. Harold nervously stands, and in the entire film's most chilling scene, notices that his is the only reflection in the dining room's wall-sized mirror. The restaurant is filled with vampires, one of which is Donna, who appears to be the ringleader. The segment ends with everyone helping themselves to his blood by tapping his jugular with a wine dispenser.

Bob Ross...the acid years.
Watching the segment with more jaded eyes, I enjoyed the delicious black humor that was lost on me as a kid, too terrified at the idea of an ravenous vampire horde to concern myself with the inherent ridiculousness of the climax. I was also able to scratch an itch that had been tormenting me for a long time: So that's where I'd seen From Dusk 'Till Dawn's story before.

There are significant differences between the two films. The initial undead assault in From Dusk 'till Dawn comes out of the blue, changing the entire tone on a dime and essentially turning it into two movies: the hip Tarantino crime story, followed by Robert Rodriguez' over-the-top action and bloodletting (the film might even be seen as a precursor to the their next collaboration, Grindhouse). The "Midnight Mess" segment in Vault of Horror applies some ominous foreshadowing that something's not quite right with the setting, building a bit of anticipatory dread. But ironically, it's the Gecko Brothers who are armed and ready, while Harold is the one who's ill-prepared and caught completely off-guard.
But the basic story is the same: Main characters who commit despicable acts, and just when they think they've gotten away scot-free, they stumble into an outwardly benevolent place that appears to be safe...at least until it's feeding time.

The remaining segments in Vault of Horror aren't nearly as clever or amusing, and the movie as-a-whole pales in comparison to Amicus' Tales from the Crypt. "Midnight Mess" makes it worth checking out, though, offering an amusingly twisted take on classic vampire conventions. And considering Quentin Tarantino's ongoing reverence for cinema of the 70s, perhaps it once provided a bit of inspiration.

April 20, 2020

BLOOD ON THE MOON: Robert F**king Mitchum!

Starring Robert F**king Mitchum, Barbara Bel Geddes, Robert Preston, Walter Brennan, Phyllis Thaxter, Frank Faylen. Directed by Robert Wise. (88 min)

Review by Mr. Paws😸

We all need a little more Robert Mitchum in our lives. As classic tough guys go, only McQueen and Bogart were cooler.

He’d already been in dozens of movies prior to Blood on the Moon, mostly in supporting roles and often billed as Bob Mitchum. As the parts grew bigger, so did his name and once Out of the Past was unleashed, he was bestowed the official title of Robert F**king Mitchum, the unflappable man’s-man who kicked ass and melted hearts, despite looking like an auto mechanic who always showed up for work hungover. 

As for Robert F**king Mitchum on a horse and brandishing a six iron...just hook that shit up to my veins. 

He’s in full Robert F**king Mitchum mode in Blood on the Moon as Jim Garry, a hired gun recruited by old buddy Tate Riling (Robert Preston), to help keep local baron John Lufton (Tom Tully) from bringing his herd home, which would supposedly affect local land owners. But Garry learns Riling is actually planning to swindle Lufton: With nowhere to take his cattle, Riling will offer to buy it cheap, then resell it at a higher price. After getting to know the Lufton family – particularly Tom’s feisty daughter, Amy (Barbara Bel Geddes) – Garry questions which side he’s on, especially once some of the local ranchers start dying.

"So...what's the F stand for, stranger?"
It isn’t a particularly original story, nor does it sound all that interesting on paper. However, this is another movie where skillful direction (by Robert Wise) and fine performances keep it crackling. I mostly knew Preston from sunnier roles like The Music Man, but he actually did a lot of westerns early-on and makes an effective villain. Perpetual cowpoke Walter Brennan is on-hand as a sympathetic rancher-turned-cohort out to avenge his son’s death. However, the movie belongs to Robert F**king Mitchum, who Robert-F**king-Mitchums as only Robert F**king Mitchum can.

He’d go on to bigger things, of course, redefining antiheroes and creating a few of Hollywood’s greatest villains. But he had already become Robert F**king Mitchum long before that, Blood on the Moon being a great early example. Though the film itself may not be considered a classic, his performance certainly is.


April 18, 2020

HEROES and EDDIE MACON’S RUN: Escape from the Boob Tube


HEROES (1977)
Starring Henry Winkler, Sally Field, Harrison Ford, Val Avery. Directed by Jeremy Paul Kagan. (113 min)
Starring Kirk Douglas, John Schneider, Lee Purcell, Leah Ayres. Directed by Jeff Kanew. (95 min)

Review by Stinky the Destroyer😼

On Blu-ray for the first time, Heroes and Eddie Macon’s Run feature a couple of TV icons trying to make the time-honored jump to big screen stardom. It didn’t quite work out that way for either and both of these films have since fallen into relative obscurity. However, it’s kind-of interesting to revisit them now, ironically because of the supporting casts.

Heroes has Henry Winkler shedding his Fonzie persona to play Jack, an unstable Vietnam veteran on a cross-country trek to start a worm farm with his old war buddies. With Sally Field in-tow as the love interest he meets along the way, it’s an unassuming, seriocomic road movie that moves in fits and starts. But the real interest is Harrison Ford in a supporting role as Jack’s car-racing pal (prompting the film’s most improbable moment). Heroes was made before Star Wars but released afterwards, so Ford doesn’t have nearly as much screen time as the billing suggests. Still, it’s an amusing early performance.

One jumped the shark, the other nuked the fridge.
Typical of the era, John Schneider was another guy who to tried to do it all back then...TV, movies and music. He does double duty in Eddie Macon’s Run, first as the title character, then warbling a couple o’ sappy country ballads for the soundtrack. Eddie’s an escaped convict trying to reunite with his wife and son while Detective Marzack (Kirk Douglas) chases him down...again (through flashbacks, we learn these two have a history together). Schneider, of course, doesn’t hold a candle to Douglas in the charisma department, which is why the film is best when the latter’s on-screen. Eddie Macon’s Run may be too episodic and silly for its own good, but Douglas is always a joy to watch (even when he’s slumming).

A romantic evening with Mr. Douglas.
Then there’s the added bonus of spotting a plethora of now-familiar character actors in bit parts, such as John Goodman, J.T. Walsh, Dann Florek, Mark Margolis, Tom Noonan J.C. Quinn and Jay O. Sanders. Some are uncredited, others almost unrecognizable, but all of them manage to out-perform Schneider, who simply never had what it took to carry an entire film on his own.

Both titles are little more than Hollywood footnotes today, largely forgotten attempts to make movie stars out of two guys whose talents were better-suited for television. Still, the supporting casts make each worth checking out. After all, everyone had to start somewhere.


April 15, 2020

THE POOP SCOOP: Classic Terrors Edition

CREEPSHOW Season 1 on Digital HD, DVD & Blu-ray 6/2
The six-episode season of the horror/comedy from showrunner Greg Nicotero (“The Walking Dead”) stars Tobin Bell (Saw franchise), Adrienne Barbeau (Escape From New York), Giancarlo Esposito (“Breaking Bad”), Cailey Fleming (“The Walking Dead”), Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator), Scott 'Kid Cudi' Mescudi (Bill & Ted Face the Music), DJ Qualls (“The Man in the High Castle”), Bruce Davison (X-Men), David Arquette (Scream franchise), Dana Gould (“Stan Against Evil”), and Tricia Helfer (“Battlestar Galactica”). CREEPSHOW Season 1, the new anthology series based on George A. Romero’s 1982 horror comedy classic, is still the most fun you’ll ever have being scared! A comic book comes to life in a series of twelve vignettes over six episodes, exploring terrors from murder to the supernatural and unexplainable. Haunted dollhouses, werewolves, murderous goblins, villainous trick-or-treaters, the dead, and medical marvels are just a few of the things to watch out for in this new series. You never know what will be on the next page...

The Original WAR OF THE WORLDS Coming 7/7 from Criterion Collection
In the expert hands of genre specialists George Pal and Byron Haskin, H. G. Wells’s end-of-civilization classic receives a chilling Cold War–era update, complete with hallucinatory Technicolor and visionary, Oscar-winning special effects. Emblazoned with iconographic images of 1950s science fiction, The War of the Worlds is both an influential triumph of visual imagination and a still-disquieting document of the wonder and terror of the atomic age. BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES • New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack • New alternate 5.1 surround soundtrack, created by sound designer Ben Burtt and presented in DTS-HD Master Audio • Audio commentary from 2005 featuring filmmaker Joe Dante, film historian Bob Burns, and author Bill Warren • Movie Archaeologists, a new program on the visual and sound effects in the film featuring Burtt and film historian Craig Barron • From the Archive, a new program about the film’s restoration featuring Barron, Burtt, and Paramount Pictures archivist Andrea Kalas • Audio interview with producer George Pal from 1970 • The Sky Is Falling, a 2005 documentary about the making of the film • The Mercury Theatre on the Air radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds from 1938, directed and narrated by Orson Welles • Radio program from 1940 featuring a discussion between Welles and H. G. Wells, author of the 1897 novel The War of the Worlds • Trailer • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing • PLUS: An essay by film critic J. Hoberman.
JAWS (a.k.a. the best movie ever) on 4K Blu-ray 6/2
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment will celebrate the 45th anniversary of Steven Spielberg's Jaws with a brand new 4K Blu-ray release of the film, which will be available for purchase on June 2. When a young woman is killed by a shark while skinny-dipping near the New England tourist town of Amity Island, police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) wants to close the beaches, but mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) overrules him, fearing that the loss of tourist revenue will cripple the town. Ichthyologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and grizzled ship captain Quint (Robert Shaw) offer to help Brody capture the killer beast, and the trio engage in an epic battle of man vs. nature.