Ha ha!

You just never know what he'll review next!

Monday 30 January 2012

Burl reviews Rubin & Ed! (1991)

Well hello there, stranger! It’s Burl! I’m here to review a picture that many of you won’t have seen or even heard of, and yes, I’m talking about Rubin & Ed! Ha ha, it’s a buddy picture, and a little bit of a road movie too, and it’s set in Utah to boot, just like Sweater Girls and The Boogens; and while neither buddy, road nor Utah pictures are in my list of top movie subgenres of all time, I can certainly appreciate them when they’re done well!
Rubin & Ed will remind viewers of catholic tastes a little bit of the Gus Van Sant movie Gerry, in which two guys drive out to the middle of nowhere for reasons that are at best hazy, and then start walking through the desert toward some ambiguous goal, having nonsensical conversations all the while! Ha ha, that’s pretty much what happens here! Ed, played by Johnny Fever from WKRP, is a lifelong loser whose last chance for success and self-respect, he thinks, will come from a guru-like sales seminar, and so to achieve his sales goal he tries to recruit Rubin, a reclusive longhair in mourning for his recently deceased cat, into the obviously shady sales organization! It goes without saying that Rubin is played by Crispin "Friday the 13th part 4" Glover, ha ha!
Next thing you know, Rubin and Ed are marching through the desert with the dead frozen cat packed in ice! Rubin drinks the melted catwater from the cooler every now and then, or else wrings out his Odor Eaters for further liquid sustenance, while Ed just gets thirstier and thirstier! Eventually Rubin ends up in the Cave of the Echo People and has hallucinations in which his huge shoes get even bigger! And for those who ever wondered why Crispin Glover ever tried to kick David Letterman in the head, this movie will answer all of their questions!
Ha ha, I guess this is what they mean when they talk about cult films! There’s a cult for this one and no mistake, and the watchword among its members is “My cat can eat a who-o-ole watermelon!” I like the film because it’s often pretty funny – a lot funnier than Due Date, which seems to have modeled itself on this one almost as much as on Planes, Trains and Automobiles –  and because it seems possessed of a genuinely humanistic spirit! Both characters seem like they'd be genuinely difficult to get along with, and neither of them change all that much in the end, just to achieve some contrived rapprochement as we see in more mainstream buddy movies, where personalities are often altered completely somewhere in the third act!
Plus I love the dedication Crispin Glover shows! It helps that he’d been doing the character for years before the movie was shot, but nevertheless, there’s no winking and nodding to the audience from Rubin! He’s a genuine eccentric, and a Republican too! Ha ha, somehow that makes sense in the context of the movie, even though I’m fairly sure that by and large Republicans don’t like cats!
I heartily recommend this picture to any and all who appreciate movies which set modest goals for themselves and achieve those goals very handily! I give Rubin & Ed three whole watermelons!  

Sunday 29 January 2012

Burl reviews Billion Dollar Brain! (1967)

It’s me, Burl, with a review of a spy picture for you! Like everyone I was saddened to hear of the death of Ken Russell! He had a pretty good run there for quite a long while, with his biopics and musical movies of the 1970s and his eccentric 80s pictures like Crimes of Passion, Lair of the White Worm and Salomé’s Last Dance and even Gothic! And of course movies like The Devils, Women in Love and Altered States are all plenty of fun! I heard he ended up making pictures in his garage at the end there, using his neighbours as actors, which strikes me as some pretty impressive dedication to the craft!
Billion Dollar Brain is a bit of a standout in his filmography! Ha ha, it’s a spy picture as I mentioned; one of those Harry Palmer movies in fact, like The Ipcress File or Funeral in Berlin! This was the third one to come along in as many years, and thanks to Russell, it’s certainly the weirdest of them! It starts out fairly normally, with former spy Palmer, now apparently a low-rent private eye and played by Michael "The Island" Caine, being forcibly re-recruited into the service by his old boss, and then hired by a supercomputer with the voice of Donald Sutherland to deliver some eggs to Helsinki! Soon Harry’s in Finland hanging out with his old buddy Karl Malden, of Phantom of the Rue Morgue fame, and then in Latvia with the hilarious Oscar Homolka, and now and again he’ll take another phone call from the supercomputer!
Eventually all this traipsing around the beautifully photographed snowscapes of Northern Europe leads Harry to Texas, of all places, to the compound of General Midwinter, a crazy right-wing oil-rich nutbar who fears communism so much he wants to risk World War III by fomenting rebellion in the Baltic states! Ha ha, it’s the same logic employed by another Texas millionaire-moron-warmonger in the run-up to the war in Iraq – surely the people are so hungering for Western-style democracy that at the slightest provocation and with the smallest hint of Western backing, they’ll rise up and do most of the work themselves!
Well, as was the case in Iraq, it doesn’t quite work out that way for the General, and there’s a massive climactic sequence of chaos on the ice such as was seen in the great Sergei Eisenstein picture Alexander Nevsky! But the curious thing is that neither the supercomputer after which the movie is named, nor the ostensible hero of the piece, Harry, have much to do with it! Harry himself, blundering along after the General, is nearly wiped out along with Midwinter and his army of yankee-doodle fascists in fact, and only escapes by the skin of his teeth!
So there is a fair bit of goofology in the film’s plot and construction, and the curious eccentricities of Ken Russell are certainly evident even at this relatively early point in his career! But the cast is game and the photography very nice, and there are plenty of entertaining details, especially when they get to the actual supercomputer! And, as in Malone, the presence of a right-wing bad guy is sort of appealing, since they seem so much like bad guys in real life! I’m sure there are lots of people across America not so far removed from this General Midwinter guy, even if he seems a bit like a particularly cartoonish villain from the old Batman series! Ha ha, he could be called The Superpatriot or something like that!
Anyway, I enjoyed this picture quite a bit, as I have enjoyed most of Ken Russell’s films, and I award it three fantastic wooden ferris wheels!

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Burl reviews The Black Cat! (1941)

Ha ha, it’s Burl “in da house!” Today I thought I might review The Black Cat! What’s that? No, not the great 1934 Edgar Ulmer picture starring Boris and Bela! Hmmm? No, not the 80s Lucio Fulci version either! Or the weird 1960s super low budget version! Ha ha, this one was made in 1941, and if it has any actual connection to the Edgar Allen Poe story after which it is ostensibly named, it flew right by ol’ Burl!
Bela is in this one though, I should note! I wonder how many other stars appeared in two totally different films that have the same titles? Not many, I’d guess! And do you know what else: Basil Rathbone is in this picture, and later on made another version, an animated short, with that very same title! So two of the stars of this Black Cat also appeared in two totally different movies also called The Black Cat; and on top of that Rathbone also appeared in Roger Corman’s Tales of Terror, an omnibus picture that featured a segment called The Black Cat! Ha ha, that’s the vicissitudes of Hollywood for you!
But on to this version! As I mentioned, Bela is in this movie, lurking around the edges mostly, just as he did in Night Monster! Here he’s not a butler though, but a gardener, and again serves as just about the most obvious red herring you could conceive of! The plot concerns a rich, ailing old lady who loves cats – but not black cats, the racist! – and is surrounded by her vulture-like relatives who are waiting to grab her fortune the moment she croaks! One of them seems quite willing to help her along!
Broderick Crawford, of The Vulture, appears in the Lon Chaney Jr. role of the husky, romantic but rough-around-the-edges dupe – he’s a real estate agent who hopes to broker the sale of the house and its contents, but he’s not as rapacious as the others! Along for the ride is the comic relief, Mr,. Penney, an antique dealer who wants to sell off the old lady’s furniture! His running gag is that he believes antiques can be sold for more if they’re damaged, so he goes around scratching and scraping and breaking the various pieces, and admonishing the movers for being too careful with the items! It’s not quite as tiresome as the comic relief often found in these old dark house pictures, but only just!
These fellows I’ve mentioned and a whole lot of others all get trapped in this house by a rainstorm, and of course there’s a murderer loose! The eventual solution to the mystery is highly unlikely, but ha ha, I guess that’s the point! It’s not a great picture, and you could fairly accuse it of wasting Bela, and the comedy gets on your nerves, but it looks fantastic, the cast is game and it has a few spooky or at least atmospheric sequences, so I can’t judge it too harshly! And after all, it runs barely more than an hour, so it doesn’t take too much of your time even if you hate it! I’m going to give this version of The Black Cat two poisoned bowls of milk, and I’ll try to get to the 1930s and 1960s iterations sometime very soon!  

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Burl reviews Streets of Fire! (1984)

Burl talkin’! It’s time to have a look at a crazy cult classic that I finally caught up with: Streets of Fire! This is in some ways the action genre’s One From the Heart, namely an expensive, highly stylized, colour-saturated, music-filled, weakly-plotted, hermetically-sealed, labour of love super-flopperoo! Ha ha, nobody went to see it when it came out in the summer of 1984, and it’s no wonder Walter Hill had to move on from this picture to a bland would-be crowdpleaser like Brewster’s Millions!
But Streets of Fire is by far the more interesting movie! Ha ha, it claims off the hop to be “A Rock n’ Roll Fable,” and I guess that’s as good a description of it as anything! It takes place in a neon netherworld where people listen to a weird hybrid of 80s and 50s rock music and wear poodle skirts and grease their hair back! The action begins when a superstar lady warbler is kidnapped right off the stage by a loutish group of bikers, led by Willem Dafoe, who sports a truly astonishing pair of garbage pants!
So of course Michael Paré, the songstress’s ex-boyfriend, is called in to solve the problem! He's tough and cool, but also tends to pout like an eight year old much of the time! With the help of a tough-talking lesb*an and a doo-wop group, as well as a perpetually angry glasses nerd played by Rick Moranis, Paré fights Willem and his gang until, naturally, the whole affair comes down to a mano-a-mano sledgehammer fight! Ha ha, that’s how these things always end up, isn’t that true!
In the background, Rick Moranis, dressed like a 1950s nerd, hops around spewing venom! I guess he’s supposed to be overcompensating for his nerdly insecurities, and in the process, he actually becomes just about the most well-rounded character in the entire movie! The other most interesting character is Amy Madigan, who plays some sort of soldier lady who just won’t fall for Michael Paré’s charms! He’s a real pretty boy, so most of the other ladies in the movie, except his sister, consider him pure catnip!
It’s an interesting experiment of a movie, and I guess was closer to the comic-book craziness that Hill had envisaged for The Warriors! But the story is really weak tea, and the narrative, such as it is, essentially comes to a close halfway through! I know the thing’s supposed to be a fable, with the characters being types and nothing more, but in the end, dramatically speaking, it just doesn’t satisfy!
But it satisfies in a whole lot of other ways! The movie looks great, the music’s not too bad – it’s no Phantom of the Paradise, but it’s still much better than most movies where a character is supposed to be a great rock star – and the whole enterprise just feels slightly crazed and out of control! And, ha ha, I surely do like that in a movie! This is one of those grand, soaring cinematic Icari that books such as Mr. Rabin’s My Year Of Flops mean to celebrate, and if Mr. Rabin hasn’t covered this movie, he sure should consider it!
I give Streets of Fire three broken down tour busses!

Sunday 22 January 2012

Burl reviews The Boogens! (1981)

Hello! It’s your good friend Burl! I thought I’d review a movie about the monsters you might be unlucky enough to find if you go around opening up old mines in the Utah mountains! This picture’s called The Boogens, and it has the reputation of being a movie well-regarded by the famous spookbook author Stephen King!
Well, it’s not an all-time classic maybe, but I can see why somebody might consider this an underrated booga-booga movie of its era! It concerns a couple of guys who hook up with two amiable, rough-hewn older gentlemen to open up a long-abandoned silver mine, which, some fake newspaper clippings in the title sequence tell us, was the scene of mysterious attacks and cave-ins that claimed the lives of several miners! And the two guys have some girlfriends, and the four of them are all staying in a lonely mountain cabin not too far from the mine!
Well, after some dynamite is set off, what do you think is released from the previously sealed areas of the mine? You guessed it, boo-boo-Boogens! These are tentacled, vaguely turtle-like critters which scuttle about looking for victims! There’s a spooky sequence early in the picture involving a woman alone in the cabin, where she is of course menaced by boogens, which have come into her basement via tunnels that were purposely built there for some reason! And of course it all comes down to a lot of running through the tunnels of the mine, trying to evade the toothy varmints!
There are quite a few entries in the mine/cave horror subgenre – this, The Strangeness, My Bloody Valentine, the Descent films and more – and there are two potential flaws endemic to the form: impenetrable darkness resulting from the underground setting and the tediously repetitive creeping through rocky shafts that all look the same! The Boogens has generally decent lighting, which was a pleasant surprise, and while it has no shortage of the standard issue cave-creeping, it mixes things up a bit by the inclusion of an underground cavern with a lake in it!
There are a few good sequences and the characters are quite likeable, thanks mainly to the unexpectedly strong performances! But at the same time, there’s some real wasted potential in this picture! It’s stated at one point that there are tunnels leading from the mine to every house in town, which would seem to be the set up for multiple boogen attacks of all sorts of different people! But we don’t get such boogen attacks – two of our four young people, the two older guys, the lady in the house, an old doom-crier fellow in the vein of Crazy Ralph from the first two Friday the 13th pictures, and a yappy dog are the boogens’ only victims! And maybe six victims and a little pooch sounds like a lot, but somehow there nevertheless seems to be great attack-free stretches in the movie during which you want to grab the picture by the lapels and remind it that, after all, it’s a monster movie! Ha ha, bring on the boogens! I call for more boogens!
Still, it’s not like it doesn’t try to deliver the goods! There’s a bit of nudity, unusual for a Utah-based production (this and Sweater Girls are the only two Beehive movies I can think of with boobs in them), and some of the attack scenes are even a little gory! I thought this picture had a lot of heart, and that’s worth a fair bit to ol’ Burl!  Plus I’d like to say that the dog in this movie gives one of the single greatest canine performances I’ve ever seen! I could recommend it just for him, actually, and was sad when he became boogenmeat! I give this effort three not completely wrapped bath towels!

Burl reviews House of Psychotic Women! (1973)

Hi, Burl here with some Iberian horror for you! Ha ha, the Spaniards have a long tradition of spookshows, and one of their most famous monstermen was Paul Naschy, aka Jacinto Molina, who often played a troubled werewolf named Count Waldemar (as he did in The Werewolf vs. the Vampire Woman), or else he fought mummies, sorceresses or yetis! Monster trouble was a regular staple of his working life, and his refrigerator-like body was often pushed to its very limits by their incessant attacks, or by his own lycanthropic transformations!
But there weren’t always monsters in his pictures! This one, for instance, as promised by the title, features a dwelling inhabited by neurotic ladies, and is informed by the then-popular giallo black-gloved killer films being produced in Italy! (The movie is better known these days under its original, more giallo-esque title Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll!) Old Jacinto plays an ex-con with a history of violent behaviour who, in his quest for employment, finds himself working as a handyman in the titular structure! The ladies in question are three sisters who each have their own dire problems, which are not necessarily solved by Jacinto’s arrival! However, as in movies like Forbidden World, we find that his janitorial duties include quite a bit of, ha ha, “troubleshooting!”
But there are also murders afoot of course, all enacted to the strains of Frère Jacques, which is a song I had to sing a lot in school when I was but a young sprout! That added a strange aura to the proceedings, I must say! The murders are all of pretty young blonde ladies, and involve the gruesome post-mortem removal of the victims’ eyes! Ha ha, yikes! But who could be behind this killing frenzy? Could be Jacinto, or one of the psychotic women, or any of a number of other characters! The final answer is slightly convoluted, as always in these pictures, but also entertainingly goofy!
And of course the fireplug presence of Paul Naschy is always a boon to any picture! He helped write the screenplay too, so of course there are numerous scenes where he takes off his shirt and makes love to the beautiful but damaged ladies of the house! But I do have to say I was surprised at his fate in the movie! It’s always nice when something genuinely unexpected happens in an otherwise fairly prescriptive outing! And as it all comes to a climax, so too do the haunting strains of Frère Jacques!
As for the rest of the movie, well, it’s a bit of a daffodil and could really have used a bit more Eurocool style, that being the currency in which your typical giallo prefers to trade! But more often House of Psychotic Women seems to prefer the rather cheap-looking, gritty and zoom-lens happy techniques we see in Jess Franco films and suchlike! Oh well, it makes for an interesting pudding at the very least, and I give this picture two unsafely utilized garden harrows!

Sunday 15 January 2012

Burl reviews Delirium! (1979)

Hi, Burl here with a real obscurity for you! Ha ha, it’s called Delirium, and that is a quality this picture certainly manages to conjure up! It’s always nice to find an unexpected congruence between the title of a movie and the movie itself, even if it’s not entirely what was intended by the filmmakers, ha ha!
Here’s a movie for those times when one of your buddies wants to watch a slasher movie and another one wants to watch a police procedural and still a third would like to see a conspiracy picture! That’s when you triumphantly produce Delirium from your basement and say “Gentlemen and ladies, ha ha, guess what, I can accommodate you all!”
Well, it seems there’s a maniac named Charlie out killing ladies as quickly as he can find them! He spears one through a door, gives another a pretty stiff neck-twist, and pitchforks a third right in the neck! It’s pretty horrendous, and gory in that great fakey late-70s way! He even gives the chop to an innocent delivery boy, yikes!
While all this is happening, a couple of checkered-jacket detectives are on the case, trying to figure out who crazy Charlie is and what he’s going to get up to next! Ha ha, the detectives are a real couple of St. Louis characters, that’s for sure! Did I mention that the movie was filmed in St. Louis? Well, since the St. Louis Arch is visible in just about every shot during the daytime exterior scenes, you probably would have figured that out yourself pretty quickly!
And while all this is happening, we learn about a mysterious cabal of local businessmen – a Star Chamber if you prefer – who see to it that no criminal goes unpunished in the greater St. Louis area! To that end they hold their own little kangaroo courts on the miscreants and then unleash a psycho on them, someone like Charlie! But what’s been happening is that Charlie, their latest psycho-for-hire, being a crazy man, has gone rogue and is doing pleasure killings of his own volition! Ha ha, cabal of businessmen, surprise! Crazy man acts crazy, who’d a thunk it!
A headbald in sunglasses played by someone called “Barron Winchester” is the leader of this star chamber, and by the end of the picture he’s as crazy as Charlie! Both of them have dime store ‘Nam flashbacks, which look more like flashbacks to an abandoned St. Louis drive-in or something! It all kind of comes together in a climax which involves lots of machine guns and exploding blood capsules!
Well, let me tell you, this is one crazy picture! It was made for pocket change and a few of the scenes are too dark to see much, and the performances have a distinctly local theatre group feel, and there’s nothing imaginative or exciting about the filmmaking, but I still got quite a bit of enjoyment out of this loopy daffodil! You’ll notice I’ve said several times that the movie is crazy but haven’t said exactly how, and that’s because I don’t think I can get more specific than that! Maybe it’s just me, I don’t know! But try to get your mitts on a copy, have a look, and we’ll figure it out together! Until then, I’m going to give Delirium two unlucky delivery boys!

Burl reviews For Keeps! (1988)

Hi, Burl here to review a forgotten picture from the 80s! Ha ha, if most of the people have forgotten that Blue City ever existed, then all of the people have forgotten about For Keeps! But I haven’t forgotten about it, because I actually watched them shoot a little bit of this movie way back when, when it was called Maybe Baby! I always wondered how it turned out, and so finally the other day I gave it a look!
Ha ha! Well, Molly Ringwald’s in the picture, and I guess this was the movie she made after falling out with John Hughes, her old pal who put her in so many of those teen 80s movies! Maybe he wanted her for She’s Having A Baby, but she said no, I’d rather do this other movie about someone having a baby! So off she went! She plays a Kenosha, Wisconsin-based high school girl who has a boyfriend named Stan Beefteque, and she and Stan make sweet love one day and we, the audience, get the whole view of what’s going on biologically within them! The scene reminded me of a similar one in the movie Enter the Void, and any of you who have seen that picture will know what I’m talking about!
Molly and Stan have all sorts of post-high school plans! She’s going to Madison to become a journalist and he, an accomplished designer of novelty tents, has an application in to the architecture department at Cal Tech! But of course as soon as they learn there’s a baby on the way, they consider all these plans scuppered! And of course they have to deal with their parents! Stan ends up becoming estranged from his, while Molly’s single mom, unlucky in love herself and embittered, gives unwise counsel!
The couple move into a coldwater flat and have the baby, and from there their lives become harrowing! I had no idea how thickly this movie laid on the drama, but there seems to be shouting in every scene, and after Stan becomes a sullen and shirtless beer-guzzling young husband, roiling with anger inside because he was accepted to Cal Tech but turned them down, it looks like that’s it for the relationship! But wait a minute – is that a happy ending lurking in the wings? No, it’s a somewhat confusingly ambivalent one that appears to believe it’s a happy ending!
I can’t say this movie is any sort of lost classic! It’s from the director of Rocky and The Karate Kid and Joe, and in a way it’s a sort of mixture of all those movies, with a little bit of Guess What We Learned In School Today mixed in! As I say, there’s an awful lot of shouting, and while I’d previously wondered what happened to the guy who played Stan Beefteque, who was a functionally personable and good looking actor, I realize now that he must have blown out his voice on this picture and been unable to star in movies thereafter! Does he consider For Keeps his legacy project? If so, I’m glad at least that I watched it for that reason!
I guess this is an attempt to deal with teen pregnancy in a semi-realistic way, but it’s not much more realistic than a John Hughes movie when you get down to it! And on top of that it’s not really ol’ Burl’s type of picture – I just watched it because I remember when they were making it! I guess I give it one and a half invisible bathroom walls! Ha ha!

Saturday 14 January 2012

Burl reviews Night Monster! (1942)

Hello, hello, it’s Burl! I’m here to review a creepy old Universal picture from the olden days, those innocent wartime days when you could just put together a bunch of people in a scary old house and you'd have a brand new booga-booga movie for the bottom half of the bill!
Of course it helps if some of those people in that scary house are the likes of Lionel Atwill and Bela Lugosi, even if Bela’s just playing a butler! You keep waiting for him to turn into a bat or something, but he’s pretty much just a stiff old butler with a strong sense of loyalty to his employer! Of course we well know that Bela’s abilities ranged far beyond such portrayals, so in a way it’s kind of nice to see him just play a fairly regular if still somewhat creepy guy!
Bela’s far from the main character in this picture! It seems there’s an elderly invalid whose arms are like old batwings, just leathery husks, completely useless, and whose legs are quite simply gone! He got that way in spite of the efforts of a trio of doctors who’ve been invited for the weekend! In addition there’s the invalid’s possibly-mad sister; a lady psychiatrist the sister has invited to see if she’s crazy or just being gaslit by the others in the house; a sinister housekeeper in the Mrs. Danvers mould; a friendly neighbour who writes murder-mysteries; and a be-turbaned swami with weird knowledge of Eastern occult practices! Ha ha, quite a crew!
It was when the swami showed up, and when it turned out that his hocus pocus was of central importance to the narrative, that I began to suspect that here, finally, is another picture in the tradition of The Amazing Mr. X! Ha ha, I really like these movies where a vein of Eastern mysticism makes its way into a spooky All-American situation! I guess I just like that particular chemical mixture!
Of course there are murders – in fact, the murders started before the movie even did! There’s a foggy, froggy swamp near the mansion, and it seems a doctor had been found there, the victim of a pretty stiff neck-twist! And a chambermaid who was going to spill the beans – same thing! And every time the sinister strangler is afoot, all the frogs in the swamp fall eerily silent! Soon the neck-twister is roaming the house, taking care of the very doctors who had failed to save the helpless invalid’s limbs! But it couldn’t be him, could it, somehow taking revenge personally on these sawboneses?
Well, there might just be some limb-regenerating going on, but I don’t want to give too much away! I’ll just say that the concept behind this strangler’s means of locomotion is pretty spooky! This was an altogether enjoyable picture, in fact! If you can get around the idea of Bela playing a supporting butler role, and you like that gleaming monochromatic Universal Pictures atmosphere as much as I do, you might enjoy it quite a bit also! I give Night Monster three empty pant legs and an extra turban jewel to Nils Asther who plays the role of the swami!

Friday 13 January 2012

Burl reviews Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter! (1984)

Hi, Burl here to look at another one of the famous killer Jason’s crazy machete-waving adventures! I’ve always thought of the Friday the 13th movies much the way many others think of the Star Trek pictures: namely that it’s the even-numbered ones that are better and more entertaining than the odd! I’m not what you’d call a great big fan of any of them really, but I’ll take II, IV and VI over I, III and V! (I haven’t really sat down and watched the ones after that, except for the one where he goes to hell and the one where he goes to space, both of which I saw in the theatre! But the one with the psychic girl, his grand trip to Manhattan/Vancouver and his match-up with the redoubtable Fred Krueger, along with whatever others there may be, have all passed me by!)
I watched the fourth one again the other day, because I recalled it somewhat fondly, and because Crispin Glover is in it, and, ha ha, he’s great in the picture! He brings a really welcome note of eccentricity to it, probably in spite of any direction he was given, and certainly in spite of anything in the script!
The story is pretty standard! There’s a family who live near Camp Crystal Lake: a single mother, her teenage daughter and her son, the monster-mad Corey Feldman! Also they have an amiable retriever dog, Gordon! Next door to them is a rental property that’s inhabited by a group of kids out for a wild time, and there is also a pair of comely twins who apparently live somewhere nearby! This, with a little skinny-dipping as a garnish, is precisely the formula needed to encourage the murderous rage of Jason! Although he doesn’t seem to need much encouragement, ha ha!

I think the filmmakers really did intend this to be the final chapter of the Friday the 13th story! Apparently the movie was originally going to end with Jason getting his head frizzle-fried in a sort of microwave oven contraption which Corey Feldman had created for some reason, but they scrapped that because it was too outside of the established M.O. of these movies! Ha ha, if only they could see into the future of the series, with the enraged ambulance driver and the psychic lady and the space stuff and the body-hopping and all that, they’d have known there was room to move with this formula! Anyway, they settled on the famous machete-slide for Jason’s demise, which was still supposed to be pretty final; but of course the picture made quite a few ducats, and they figured out a way to continue the movies anyway!
I still kind of like this movie, because it has Crispin Glover and his insane turkey dance - he's as funny here as in Rubin & Ed - along with some pretty tasty, if abbreviated, Tom Savini trick effects! It also has a few nice directorial flourishes, like the opening shot, which might be the single most ambitious shot of the series with its complex craning and tracking and lighting and choreography, and even a helicopter! On the downside, it has even less well-developed characters than most of these pictures, a dumb script, and The Last American Virgin, who is in the film as Crispin Glover’s “friend” Ted the Computer, and is a really annoying jackass! And can anyone tell me why Gordon the dog jumped out the window like that? And what happened to the mother? Ha ha, so many questions!
I give this picture one and a half lightning-quick haircuts!

Thursday 12 January 2012

Burl reviews Rawhead Rex! (1986)

Hi, Burl here to review a monster movie! It’s not the best monster movie ever made, and the monster in it isn’t the best monster ever made, but it’s still just a plain and simple monster movie, along the lines of Prophecy, and sometimes that sort of simplicity is just what the doctor ordered!
The monster and the movie share the same name: Rawhead Rex! Of course it’s based on a story by Clive Barker, and since Barker wrote the script too, it follows the story pretty closely! Except he changed some of the names for some reason, as though he was adapting a true event and wanted to protect the innocent! Ha ha! He also changed the location of the story from rural England to Ireland, or maybe it was the producers who changed the location because they could get some good tax credits or cheaper labour there! Who knows! The location change doesn’t alter much about the story anyway!
It seems there’s a monster living under the ground near a small village, a decidedly un-jolly green giant put there hundreds of years ago by some previous generation of villagers who then erected a big stone penis on top of him! But they forgot to leave any sort of warning about the huge, savage monster man buried beneath the fields, except to make a little representation of the whole affair in stained glass and stick it in the church right next to the rectory!
Rotten luck: just as the big green man escapes his earthen custody, an American historian researching something about churches happens along with his family! The mayhem starts up in earnest, and among the victims is the historian’s son! So now it’s personal! The historian calls upon his historian superpowers to devise a way to beat Rawhead, and in the meantime, ol’ Rex does his thing at a trailer park and here and there around the village! Heads and hands and all manner of body parts are wrenched from their moorings! Ha ha!
Some might say wait a minute, ha ha, is Rawhead Rex really a monster? Because monsters don’t wear clothes! Well, it’s true that he sports a sort of shredded leather jerkin, and that he has hypnotic powers and seems quite crafty in his diabolical way, but I still say he qualifies as a straight-up monster! I mean just look at him! By garr! But while he’s got a pretty good look, the trick effects that are meant to bring him to life are a bit of a cruickshank! He’s a bit on the stiff side, and his expression doesn’t ever change much!
The optical trick effects are a similar let-down! I can imagine what Barker wrote in his script, and the sort of thing he had in mind for imagery such as the historian’s view of Rawhead standing majestically on a distant hill in the moonlight, clutching a severed head; but there’s only one word for the final product: cheeseball! Ha ha, the ending has what the filmmakers suppose to be a magical light show in the vein of Raiders of the Lost Ark, but it looks more like a Maximum Ice ad from the late 80s!
Those effects and the often-ridiculous dialogue undermine the film, but I do like a monster movie, and I also like movies with ancient Anglo-Saxon myth as their foundation! (That’s one of the things I like about Halloween III, for instance!) And of course it’s always grand when a head-munching monster is stalking the countryside! I give Rawhead Rex two creepy vergers and a wish that the filmmakers had tried a little bit harder to make it good!

Wednesday 11 January 2012

Burl reviews Malibu Beach! (1978)

Burl here! Today I wanted to stroll down the beach with you for a bit! What beach? Ha ha, Malibu Beach, of course! “'Cause school is out and nothin’s gonna hold us down! Malibu is calling, it’s got the best looking girls around! All day and all night we’ve got no troubles, everything is fine! Love is here, that’s summertime!"
That last paragraph was mostly me quoting the theme song of Malibu Beach, and not only is it a great song, but it pretty thoroughly describes the plot, such as it is, and outlines the main themes of the picture as well! Ha ha, this movie is just a movie about being young in Malibu in the late ‘70s in the summer, full stop! That’s it! And as a result, you don’t really watch the movie, you immerse yourself in it for ninety-some minutes and just enjoy!
There are a few characters, like a lifeguard girl, her friend, a couple of surfer-type guys (though they don’t do any surfing or even talk about surfing), a rich-kid named Claude, a local goodtime gal called Glorianna, and, wouldn’t you know it, a muscleman named Dugan – the very same Dugan from that marvelous picture The Van! All of these people, and many others, interact on and around the legendary beach of the title, and despite a few mild conflicts here and there - mostly involving Dugan; or a bratty beach kid; or a pair of van-driving lowlives, one wearing a weird cowboy hat-kimono ensemble and played by Bill Adler from Van Nuys Blvd., and the other clad in a denim vest of puce; or a dog who steals bikini tops just like the one in The Beach Girls - the overall vibe is extremely mellow!
What do they do? Well, they sit around driftwood beach fires, drink beer, smoke a little wig-tightener, go skinny dipping, make sweet love, drive around, attend a party at Claude’s place (he’s got an awesome stereo system, a catcher’s mitt chair and a huge neon sign reading “Pleasure!”), have a swimming race, toss around the old pigskin and oh so much more! It’s a lot like the opening scene of Jaws, but without the shark! Oh, wait a minute, there actually is a shark in the picture! It chases one of the characters, but he gets away okay!
This is a Crown International picture, it hardly need be said! Crown International was a company that seemed to specialize in this sort of plotless summer youth movie, and they made a whole bunch of them in the 70s! The Van is another one, and The Pom-Pom Girls, and The Beach Girls, and there’s plenty more too! They made other sorts of movies as well, but I think they’re best known for goodtime classics like this!
It’s the middle of winter as I write this, and therefore the perfect time to watch Malibu Beach! It’s like taking a little holiday, not just to California, not just into a groovy and mellow past, but to your own teenage years! And sometimes a movie with no plot at all is just what you want! As there’s no sense of forward motion to the movie, none of the usual signposts that tell you where you are in the narrative and that the climax is approaching, the movie seems to last forever! I mean that in the best possible way, of course!
Go on, seek out Malibu Beach and check it out for yourself! I don’t think you’ll be disappointed, though the third or fourth time you hear the same song on the soundtrack, you might become slightly annoyed! Just try to roll with it, dude, and take a puff on the nearest joint! I give Malibu Beach three very strange jukebox-type machines that Claude fools around with! Ha ha, you’ll have to see the movie to see what I mean by that, but trust ol’ Burl, it’s worth it!

Sunday 8 January 2012

Burl reviews The Adventures of Tintin! (2011)

Hi, Burl here to review a cartoon movie from none other than Steven Spielberg! This is apparently his first cartoon, and it was done using a new technique quite different from the pen-and-ink styles employed by the late Walt Disney! The drawings here have a strangely lifelike look to them – but their close approximation of human appearance and movement almost comes to work against these drawings, as we are constantly reminded that they are not real precisely by the fact that they are so nearly!
The movie is The Adventures of Tintin, and I was very excited to see it as I have been a longtime fan of that world-famous young journalist-adventurer, who never writes or files a story, has no editor that we ever see, and yet seems to live very comfortably with his little dog Snowy, and enjoys endless leisure and worldwide travel! He’s really got it figured out, ha ha! I’d long thought how nice it would be to see a good live-action version of one of his adventures, so I was a little disappointed when I heard it was going to be a cartoon, but I guess it’s no big deal! A live action version would have had so many trick effects that it would have been something of a cartoon anyway like so many Hollywood action pictures these days!
The movie is a mash-up of three of the Tintin books, The Secret of the Unicorn, Red Rackham’s Treasure and The Crab With the Golden Claws! Those aren’t bad choices, but I’d have liked The Black Island mixed with Tintin in Tibet, I think! Ha ha, one has an ape in a tam o’ shanter and the other has a big coconut-headed yeti! I think this Tintin movie has been a fairly sizable hit, so who knows, maybe we’ll get that down the line!
This story has the intrepid boy reporter getting mixed up in a mystery involving a model ship and, ultimately, a sunken treasure, ha ha, naturally! He meets a man destined to be his lifelong chum, the dipsomaniacal sea captain Haddock, and together, along with help from the inept Scotland Yarders Thomson and Thompson and the little white terrier Snowy, they battle a perfidious first mate and a piratical, devil-bearded malefactor along with all their attendant henchmen!
It’s been a while since Spielberg made one of these lighthearted action pictures, or at lease a while since I saw a new one of them, and now and again as I watched this picture I got a little ghost of the frissons I recall having back when I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark for the first time! But only occasionally, and that’s in part because I’m now an adult, of course, and in part because there’s a kind of mechanical and rote aspect to the goings-on this time around! Some of the action scenes appear to have strange ellipses in them which the top-of-his-game Spielberg would never have allowed! During a big chase in an Arab town, for example, we see a tank driving along with a building stuck on top of it; but we never see the moment when the tank actually tried to drive through the building and became wedged, and then just pushed the building along with the Thom(p)sons inside! Ha ha, it’s a solid comedy action beat, or would have been, and SS is usually on those like a dog on chocolate!
That’s not the only example! There’s a bit of a “Yeah, yeah, here’s your Tintin movie” aspect to it, from the script on up! And Tintin has always been a fairly one-note fellow, but in a movie you might hope for a few little crenellations that expand upon but don’t undercut or alter the character too much! A difficult balance, I’m sure, but they might have at least given it a shot! Also, they steal at least one gag from Commando, and, ha ha, where’s Calculus anyway?
But it’s not a horrible movie or anything, just a sort of time-waster sprinkled with moments of excitement and adventure, but generally just sort of there! We get a couple of references to past Spielberg triumphs – Tintin’s ginger quiff poking above the water like a shark fin as he stealth-swims toward some villains, for example – but these somehow feel as though they were put in by different people, maybe while Spielberg was in the bathroom or something! I think it’s possible that Spielberg simply realized halfway through the process that he didn’t enjoy making cartoons after all, and that’s fine! Anyway, I give The Adventures of Tintin two blistering barnacles and am keeping my fingers crossed for a live-action Black Island adaptation!

Friday 6 January 2012

Burl reviews The Power! (1983)

Yes, that’s right, it’s Burl! You probably already know how much I enjoy reviewing movies from the Goopy 80s Makeup genre, pictures like Mausoleum, Forbidden World, The Outing and many others! Well here’s another one, an earlier effort from the guys who brought us that goopy semi-classic The Kindred!
This one is called The Power, and the vagueness of that title is reflected in just about every other aspect of the movie! It takes a while for the hapless viewer to get his or her footing, because we start with some characters who aren’t our protagonists by any stretch, but their introductory scenes go on for so long we can be forgiven for thinking they must be! It seems there’s a tiny Aztec idol which somehow finds its way repeatedly into the United States to cause havoc and destruction! First a college professor has it, and after it gives a smart-alec student a nosebleed and another guy a crick in his neck, it sends the professor up to get impaled by his flagpole! Ha ha, it’s a pretty good trick effect!
Next there’s a scene in Mexico where the guy who got the crick in his neck is looking for the idol! Apparently after each visit to America it returns home to live with an old man and his grandson, who keeps it in a special secret place away from prying gringo eyes! But for some reason they bring it out anyway, and even let the crick-neck fellow hold it, and of course he gets idol fever and goes bats, whereupon he shoots the idol’s keepers and then has a terrible bleeding attack!
In some crazy leap I didn’t understand, the idol heads back to the States and we meet a whole new group of potential protagonists, including a trio of intrepid high school students, a lady journalist named Sandy who does crazy tabloid stories about Bat Boys and Wrestling Cheeses and suchlike, and also her pal Jerry, who wears the most extraordinary curly mullet and comes to stay with Sandy! Well, the kids somehow get their hands on the idol, then Jerry, an easygoing guy, becomes obsessed with it and turns into a maniac! He soon transforms into a pig, and next thing you know he’s on a porcine murder spree! Eventually, in front of the people he’s tried to murder but hasn’t quite managed to yet, he bursts at the seams! Then there’s a long coda involving the crick-neck and another character, and of course a twist ending which underlines the movie’s tagline and thesis: “When Will Mankind Learn? It Cannot Be Destroyed!” Ha ha!
If that plot description made only a little sense, and seemed to have no structure or direction, or any particular raison d’etre for anything that goes on, then guess what! You’ve just had a taste of what it’s like to watch the movie! Ha ha, there are good bits in it though, plenty of them! One of them might have been a mistake though, somewhat reminiscent of when David Lynch saw a crew member accidentally reflected in a mirror during the making of Twin Peaks and thought it would be a good spooky moment to leave in! There’s a nightmare sequence involving arms popping out of a bed that’s as good as anything Wes Craven ever came up with! And there are a few bits of imaginative staging and trick effects and bits of business that leave you pretty impressed with the movie!
But the dialogue smells pretty badly and the story is a mess! You keep waiting for somebody to assert themselves as the protagonist and it never quite happens! The long multiple introductions take up too much time, and the baton-passing structure becomes tiresome, making the eighty-seven minute movie seem much longer! And what does the idol want? Why does it kill? What does anyone think they’ll get out of owning it? I don’t think the filmmakers really thought any of these questions through! One thing though: the score is fairly ambitious and impressive, and often sounds like that tinkling music they put behind montages of great cinematography!
Ultimately though, ol’ Burl is kind of a sucker for these low-budget goopy makeup movies! This one was clearly made by a bunch of people who really put their hearts into it, and that’s always nice to see! So despite its many faults and the fact that it really isn’t all that good, I’m going to give The Power two and a half swinging kitchen doors!

Burl reviews Roller Boogie! (1979)

Hi, it’s Burl here with another review for you! Ha ha, it’s disco time everybody, your big chance to get down and boogie with that little devil-possessed girl Regan, Venice Beach style! On wheels!
Roller Boogie is a feast for the eyes if you like ridiculously short shorts on men, tight Lycra bathing suits on ladies and wheels on everybody’s feet! It apparently takes place in some alternate universe where everybody has a crazed mania for roller skating, and also for suspenders! Was roller skating that big a fad? Maybe, maybe not, but it doesn’t matter, because as long as we have Roller Boogie, we can happily pretend it was!
The movie opens with a great scene where a feather-haired skating champ takes off down the rollerways and starts a giant conga line that snakes its way all around the beach, past couples making l*ve on top of dumpsters and over stacks of trash cans perfect for jumping! Of course there’s a famously clumsy skater who tries to jump the cans too, but he doesn’t get too far with that plan, ha ha! Anyway, it’s a fabulous scene, and if the movie can never quite match it through the rest of its running time, well, you can’t really get too upset! There’s plenty of crazy clothing, short shorts and roller stunts to come!
It seems Linda Blair, playing Terry, is a rich girl and a talented flautist who for reasons of her own has an itch to win the big roller boogie contest! There are forces arrayed against her of course: her pill-munching mother, her cold fish father and of course Franklin, a would-be suitor whose buffoonish behaviour leaves him humiliated by the end of every scene he’s in! Terry escapes their cloying clutches and recruits mushmouthed skating star Bobby James – his name’s not kid, it’s Bobby James, ha ha! – to help her up her roller game! But the very contest itself is in jeopardy after thuggish real estate developers threaten Jammer, the unlikely former roller skating champ and Irish Avery Schrieber who is also owner of the local roller rink and sponsor of the contest! It’s up to Bobby James and his funky pal Phones to save the day, and of course Linda Blair must perfect her roller boogieing techniques!
Ha ha, this is a pretty bad movie, but it can be a  true joy to watch if you’re in the right frame of mind! I might even go so far as to recommend a touch of pot marijuana before embarking on such an endeavour! But, as it is with roller skating, for every up this movie has, there is a down! There’s a maid who seems to have walked right out of the 1940s (or out of Mausoleum!); there are marginal characters, like Phones or the clumsy rollerskater, who should have been given much more screen time; the movie is at least fifteen minutes too long and gets a little boring no matter how much pot marijuana you may have ingested!
But when you get to the scene where Bobby James puts on his signature BJ shirt and does a mournful solo skate around the otherwise empty roller rink to cheer up his despondent pal Jammer, you want to forgive this picture all its failings! It's also nicely shot by the portly cinematographer Dean "The Thing" Cundey! Ha ha, and the ending, which is slightly unexpected, earns it some extra credit too! I give this relic of a delightfully misbegotten past two terrible lead performances, which, to be frank, it already has! Ha ha!

Tuesday 3 January 2012

Burl reviews Eyes Without A Face! (1959)

Hi, it’s Burl! Ha ha, I’ve long enjoyed movies from France, and today I thought I’d review one of that country’s fine films! This picture, Eyes Without A Face, was made during one of the nation’s real moviemaking heydays, the late 1950s, just as Truffaut and Godard and people of that sort were really gearing up!
Eyes Without A Face has a plot that will seem very familiar to many of you, but that’s because the story has been remade countless times in many different iterations, many of them by that old rascal Jess Franco! Yes, there’s a mad cosmetic surgeon, and yes he has a daughter who, through the scientist’s reckless behaviour, has been facially disfigured! And yes, a series of young and comely women are recruited as unwilling face donors for the daughter, but there is always something that goes awry with the operation, trapping the doctor, his matronly assistant and his near-innocent daughter in a descending spiral of murderous violence and weird science!
Ha ha, what a great picture! It’s beautifully shot by the great Eugen Schüfftan, who, as you know, developed the Schüfftan Process, a fantastic trick effect you should look up, and also shot such an oddball array of pictures as The Bloody Brood, The Hustler and Chappaqua, many G.W. Pabst films, a René Clair movie or two and, early in his career, in a strange premonition, a German movie called The Stolen Face! He also secretly shot Edgar Ulmer’s Strange Illusion, so they say, though another cameraman was credited, ha ha!
And though you’d never guess it, for a French movie made in 1959, this film is exceptionally gory! You get to see faces sliced right off, and let me tell you, audiences of the period were not used to seeing such outrageous grue! It’s a truly Great Moment in Horror when the surgeon begins scalpeling around the periphery of a young lady’s face and the blood starts dripping out of the wound slowly and realistically, Savini-style!
The smooth, eerie mask worn by the daughter is the film’s key visual element, and the scenes in which she drifts sadly about the house like a particularly lachrymose ghost are pure pictorial poetry! Ha ha, and although most of the movie takes place in some far-removed banlieu, there are still some breathtaking shots of Paris, particularly of its trains, that remind me of how much I love monochrome photography of the City of Lights from this era! It makes me want to watch a Jean-Pierre Melville film now, please!
I heartily recommend this beautiful, gory, hypnotic movie, and am pretty sure you’ll enjoy it too if you give it a look! Billy Idol certainly seems to have liked it! I present it with four pearl chokers and a fulsome ha ha!

Monday 2 January 2012

Burl reviews Grumpier Old Men! (1995)

Hi, Burl here to review a sequel! In the days leading up to Christmas of 1995, this was probably one of the most-anticipated sequels to come along since The Empire Strikes Back in 1980! Everyone had seen the original, and the big question on everyone’s mind on this return to Wabasha is “This time around, does Max Goldman get his chance for romance?”
Well that question is answered, but in most other respects this continuation of the story spells disappointment! The picture takes place in the summer months, which is initially interesting, but robs the film of one of the aspects that most intriguingly regionalized the original! Ha ha, no snow, no ice fishing! Wabasha looks like Anywheresville U.S.A. all of a sudden! I guess this decision probably had to do with Walter Matthau contracting double pneumonia on the Grumpy Old Men shoot and not wishing to repeat the experience a second time around!
After the rollercoaster of romantic travails in the first picture, this one opens with Jack Lemmon and Ann-Margaret living together in Lemmon’s house! What happened to the old Klickner place, that’s what I’d like to know! Anyway, he and Matthau are on friendly terms, as their kids Kevin Pollack and Daryl Hannah have decided to get married! And then, the next thing you know, old Spaghetti Raghetti’s sister Sophia Loren moves into town intending to turn the late Chuck’s bait-a shop-a into a fancy restaurantay! The winds of war are a-blowing through Wabasha again!
Although this movie has all sorts of flaws, which are especially and unavoidably apparent when it’s held up against the first installment, it does contain arguably the best scene in both of the movies: a two-hander on the old fishin’ couch between Lemmon and his dad Burgess Meredith, where the Burge explains his secrets of long life, which pretty much amount to eating a lot of bacon and drinking beer for dinner! Ha ha, sign me up!
But what I don’t get is how they could take a character like Ann-Margaret’s Ariel Truax and then totally change her around from the sophisticated Berkeley bohemian she was in the original into an irritating, parochial shrew! She’s suspicious and jealous and easily enraged, none of which she was before! Can a year of marriage with John Gustafson really have had such a dramatic effect? The Pollack and Hannah characters are touchier too, and all of this is clearly just so they can manufacture some drama and eventfulness for the picture, and it’s so baldly manipulative that you just sit waiting for these scenes to end so you can get back to some Grandpa moments, or some old man grumping, or a scene with Sven! Ha ha, like old Sven says, “Biggest.. fish… I ever saw!”
Like many sequels this one is a bit slicker and more expensive than its predecessor, but those qualities are useless, and even a bit debilitating, to a picture like this! It ought to be gritty and realistic like the first one! And of course someone in the movie has to kick the bucket, and it was pretty much preordained who this go-round’s victim would be, but you’re still pretty sad to see him go! Ha ha!
Maybe it’s just as well there was never a Grumpiest Old Men, which feels like a strange thing to think, as in my earlier, more frivolous days I wanted nothing more! But as disappointing as this installment of the GOM saga is, I’ll still give it two fatty Alfredos for the couch scene, Sven, the excellent special effects in the Catfish Hunter jumping shot, Grandpa saying "Speak for yourself!" and several other moments!

Sunday 1 January 2012

Burl reviews Grumpy Old Men! (1993)

Ha ha, hello mo-rons, it’s Burl! Sorry to call you “mo-rons” – I didn’t mean it at all! That’s just how the old ducks in this movie address one another, and I guess it’s a little catching!
The movie of course is the legendary Grumpy Old Men, a gutbuster of a picture released way back in the early 1990s, when the greatest stars in the Hollywood firmament still walked the earth as men! Of course I’m talking about Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, and in fine supporting roles, Burgess Meredith as Grandpa and Ossie Davis as Chuck the bait shop proprietor! These excellent players have all gone to the great Slippery's in the sky, but for one glorious 104 minute thunderclap of a motion picture, they could all be observed walking more or less erect and dropping profane bon mots left and right in the snowscapes of northern Minnesota!
It seems that John Gustafson and Max Goldman are next-door neighbours in the little town of Wabasha, and because of events from many years ago involving a lady they both liked, they hate each other with a passion! Ha ha, good morning putz! Hello moron! But they have mutual interests, like ice fishing and their pal Chuck, and discussing their old man ailments, and soon their common passions clash once again when Ann-Margaret moves into the old Klickner place across the street!
Why does she move into the old Klickner place, you are almost certainly wondering! Ha ha, it seems that Ann-Margaret’s mother was a shopgirl in old man Klickner’s department store, and also was his secret mistress! Well, when a little baby was conceived, her mother had to leave Wabasha to avoid the scandal! But old man Klickner never forgot his illegitimate daughter, and eventually willed his house to her! And that’s the tale!
Well, most of the movie concerns the battle for Ann-Margaret’s affections between Max and John, and also the growing affection between Max’s son and John’s daughter! I have to admit that on my initial viewing, after Ann-Margaret takes up briefly with Chuck and then Chuck subsequently kicks the bucket, I thought the movie was going to be a black widow thriller! But no, it's just a simple, perfect comedy with some masterful pathos mixed in! Of course, Grandpa Gustafson pops up regularly to deliver unforgettable comments on the goings-on, as well as the sort of advice only a 107 year-old man can provide! And of course there are several scenes in Slippery’s bar, the greatest bar ever portrayed on film! The climax takes place on Christmas Eve, and later, when everyone has recovered, we witness the final humiliation of Snyder, the evil revenue man!
What a terrific picture! It just makes you cozy and comfortable to watch it or even to think about it! Ha ha, I don’t know how many times I’ve seen this tremendous movie, but it just keeps getting better every time! The laughs start in the opening moments when the snowy shots of Minnesota are juxtaposed with Irving Berlin’s “Heat Wave,” and they just never let up!
The marvelous success of this picture when it was released on Christmas Day of 1993 led to several subsequent old man pictures with Matthau and Lemmon, including Out to Sea, The Odd Couple II and of course the sequel to this one, Grumpier Old Men, which I’ll be reviewing here soon! But none of them quite measured up to this picture, I’m sad to say! But on the other hand, how could they? Ha ha, I give this major motion picture four skinboats to Tuna Town and recommend you make enjoying it an annual experience from now to perdition!