Could the coverage of the Obamas get any more cutesy?
(Ironically, I now find myself agreeing with Bill Clinton. Remember back in 2008 when Clinton kept referring to the idea of Obama winning the Democratic nomination cutesy? Of course, Clinton was referring to the idea of a black president whereas I'm referring to the idea that Obama and his robotic wife are the 21st century equivalent of Tracy and Hepburn.)
It's been a rough day and about the only thing that made it worthwhile was the fact that NBC showed two reruns (90 minutes total) of The Office earlier tonight. This was a day saved by the sight of Melora Hardin singing Son of a Preacherman and Rainn Wilson carefully setting up a fake fire.
What made this day so crappy? Well, there's a guy -- a Dallas County Sheriff's Deputy apparently -- who thinks that I somehow dented his car. Actually, he thinks that the car was dented by me and my best friend at work, Emily. I don't want to go into too much detail about it since I already spent an hour or so venting my anger on twitter. Let's just say that neither one of us dented this gentleman's car and that apparently, the man was especially angry at me because I was apparently, while he was jumping up and down and screaming obscenities, "inconsiderate" and "rude" towards him.
Honestly, the man's behavior reminded me of why I usually don't like cops in general. The whole "I-Am-The-Law" attitude grates on my last nerve. It reminds me of something that Michael Madsen said way back in either 1993 or 1994. An interviewer asked Maden about the scene in Reservoir Dogs where he cuts a cop's ear off and Madsen reply was something along the lines of, "Who likes cops?"
Instead, I'm going to offer up a somewhat average trailer that served as a promo for an above-average film, I, Madman.
Though you might not guess it from the trailer, I, Madmanwas actually one of the best horror films of the whole late '80s, early '90s, post-slasher boom, pre-Scream period. It's a surprisingly intelligent movie about a woman who enjoys reading trashy pulp novels and the faceless killer who appears to have literally stepped out of one of those novels. The main reason the movie works is because the woman with a taste for the macabre is played by Jenny Wright, an engaging actress with an appealingly off-center vibe to her. Watching I, Madman, it's hard not to regret that she'll never get to play the lead in an Alfred Hitchcock film. Her neurotic performance here as a nice girl with bad thoughts occasionally brings to mind Janet Leigh's iconic performance in Psycho.
And just for the Hell of it, let's toss in another trailer. This is for 1990: The Bronx Warriors, which was yet another Italian rip-off of Escape From New York. The movie's actually pretty dull but the trailer has some nostalgia value if nothing else.
Let's start this edition off with the trailer for Rolling Thunder. This film, which is almost criminally difficult to see nowadays, stars William Devane as a former POW out for revenge. Helping him get his vengeance is none other than Tommy Lee Jones. Rolling Thunder was filmed in Texas (and, along with Jones, features a supporting performance from another uniquely Texan actor, Dabney Coleman) and, for better or worse, the film really captures the state.
It also features an excellent lead performance from the underrated Devane. Back in the early 90s, when the song Mr. Vain was being played on the radio every fifteen minutes or so, my friend August and I would sing our own version of the song which went: "I want you/Because I'm Bill Devane..."
Let's follow that one up with another Texas-set film that is also strangely difficult to see nowadays. Yes, it's The Town That Dreaded Sundown. This film is based on the true story of the so-called Phantom Killer who terrorized Texarkana back in the late 40s. The film features the only actor more stereotypically Texan than either Tommy Lee Jones or Daney Coleman, the great Ben Johnson.
It's also the best movie ever to be directed by Charles B. Pierce, the man who spent the 70s and 80s attempting to turn Arkansas into the new Hollywood. It didn't quite work but he did give national exposure to whatever it was that was supposedly living out in Boggy Creek. (Hell, maybe that's what eventually ended up happening to the Phantom Killer...)
Up next ... The Warriors! Strangely enough, it's often forgotten that the Warriors is essentially an exploitation film. Perhaps it's because the movie was directed by Hollywood veteran Walter Hill as opposed to Umberto Lenzi or Gary Sherman. Perhaps it's because, ever since it was first released in 1979, the Warriors has been embraced by even mainstream critics. We're used to our exploitation films being just our dirty little secrets. When the rest of the world actually agrees with our cinematic tastes, it makes us nervous.
But no doubt about it, from the simple yet compelling plot to the cast of eccentric characters played by even more eccentric actors (Who could forget David Patrick Kelley as Luther or James Remar as Ajax?), The Warriors is exploitation at its absolute best.
The thing that amazes me about The Warriors is that, after 30 years, the film still improves with each viewing. If nothing else, Walter deserves credit for making his rival "gangs" somehow both absurd and quite threatening at the same time. The fact of the matter is that in Hill's world, New York City is apparently ruled by a bunch of frustrated mimes and young men who look like they should be understudies for A Chorus Line. And yet, somehow, the film's gangs never descend into camp no matter how absurd they may be.
It's a great movie with a great trailer.
Blue Sunshine is no Warriors but it's still a good film and, like the Warriors, it is one that improves with each viewing. Jeff Lieberman's film was first released in 1976 and, arguably, it was the first true Baby Boom horror movie. The plot deals with a bunch of ex-hippies who, nearly a decade earlier, dropped a potent type of Acid known as LSD. Ten years later and these former hippies are now up-and-coming yuppies who are about to suffer the flashback from Hell.
The film stars future soft-core film maestro Zalman King. And, it must be admitted, he gives a fairly decent performance.
Since this post has, so far, dealt with four good films, it seems only right that the last trailer should be for a film that is ... well, pretty bad. The Raiders of Atlantis is an Italian film in which the Atlanteans return to the land of the living and -- shock of shocks -- end up getting pissed off. Fortunately, for humanity, there's a bunch of mercenaries nearby. Those mercenaries are led by the late Christopher Connelly (who really deserved to have more of a career than he did) and former football player Tony King. (Remember King in Cannibal Apocalypse? "Hey, Sarge, remember these choppers!?")
Anyway, somehow, these undead Atlanteans have no problem raising an army of punk rockers and motorcycle enthusiasts. In order to really understand this, it must be understood that The Raiders of Atlantis was produced during that two year period when every single exploitation film out of Europe was essentially a remake of either The Road Warrior or Escape From New York. During this time, every movie was required to feature an army of punks on motorcycles.
This period of time was a major part of my own youth and I guess that explains why I enjoy watching the trailer for Raiders of Atlantis (if not the actual film).
By the way, long before he ended up in this film, Christopher Connelly auditioned for the lead in the Graduate and he was reportedly a front runner at one point. However, he was costarring on the tv series Peyton Place at the same time and it was felt that casting him would turn the movie into just another sordid soap opera. However, it's always interesting to wonder what if Connelly had been cast as Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate? Would Dustin Hoffman now best be known for starring in The Raiders of Atlantis?
Barack Obama made his first Supreme Court nomination earlier today. And the winner is...
Judge Sonia Sotomayor!
At first glance, she would appear to be an example of everything that's wrong with judges who place advocacy above the law.
But, she fills in a niche, allows the President to "make history" (as she is the first Latina to be nominated for the court), and she has an "inspiring" story.
And, apparently, that's all that matters.
No word yet on whether or not the Senate GOP will have the guts to Bork her but I doubt it. Once you've voted to put Tim Geithner in charge of the IRS, you've lost all right to judge anyone's qualifications for anything.
Really, the only thing that Obama has to worry about now is the possibility that he might run out of Supreme Court appointments before he runs out of special interest groups that need to be appeased. It might be time to resurrect FDR's old court packing scheme.
As I've mentioned many times on this blog, I love the exploitation films and grindhouse cinema of the 70s and early 80s. The only thing I love more than a sleazy, subversive exploitation film is a trailer for a sleazy, subversive exploitation film. Even more so than with mainstream films, exploitation trailers tended to give you the best scenes of the film without any of the unnecessary filler. Exploitation trailers, as well, had the task of convincing potential filmgoers to pay money to see movies that they knew would never live up to even the lowest of expectations. As such, exploitation film trailers developed a personality all their own. They became the equivalent of the sweaty carnival barker who, disgusting as his exterior may be, still knew how to talk the talk.
I've spent the past two days searching through the videos of YouTube and I've managed to find twenty of my personal favorites. I'll be posting these trailers on this site over the next couple of days.
A quick warning: Some of these trailers contain material that could be considered offensive by some. Indeed, quite a few actually violate YouTube's terms of service and it wouldn't surprise me if the majority are removed from the site over the next week.
(Between the time I first started looking and the time I started writing this post, four trailers for Cannibal Holocaust were yanked off the site. I ended up embedding the fifth but I'll be surprised if it's still around a week from now.)
So, watch these trailers now while you still can but proceed with caution if you're easily offended or disturbed.
Let's start things off with a high point in both exploitation cinema and exploitation trailers -- Abel Ferrara's Ms. 45. Featuring a shattering performance from the late Zoe Tamerlis, Ms. 45 is one of the most intense (and, quite frankly, disturbing) films ever made. The trailer perfectly captures the film's bleak and claustrophobic mix of sensuality and violence.
This next trailer is for a western that features Fred Williamson as a former slave who rides into a frontier town and declares himself to be the new sheriff. I'm not going to mention the film's title for reasons that will be obvious upon watching the trailer. Those of you who remember Robert Townsend's Hollywood Shuffle will be forgiven for thinking that this is actually a parody. I can assure you that this is a real film because I've seen it. It's actually a pretty by-the-numbers western once you get over the "Did-I-Just-Hear-That?" factor but Williamson's always been an engaging screen presence and he and the late D'Urville Martin always made a good team.
This next trailer is for a film I have never actually seen. The trailer for An American Hippie In Isreal has been popping up on various DVDs for nearly a decade now yet the film itself has not actually been released. This has given the film a certain mystique that it probably does not deserve. From what I've been able to learn, the film was apparently made in the early 70s and, depending on who you ask, it is either amazingly pretentious or numbingly dull or both.
Still, whenever this film is finally released on DVD, I'll be one of the first suckers wasting his money on it. Why? The trailer kicks ass. Plus, I used to date a girl who was the daughter of a former American Hippie In Isreal. So, there's definitely a nostalgia factor at work here. That said, the film's protaganist certainly seems a bit surly (and old) for a hippie, doesn't he?
(By the way, this trailer contains some very brief female nudity. It also features a scrawny bald guy who apparently foams at the mouth at some point during the film.)
Next up, we have an extremely edited version of the trailer for The House on The Edge of the Park. In many ways, this is a truly reprehensible film. The characters are all unlikable, the finale is only shocking because it essentially makes no sense, and the film is full of scenes that are so blatantly sexist and sadistic that NOW -- if the organization had any sense of irony -- could probably use the film in much the same way that pro-marijuana groups used to use Reefer Madness. But I can't help it. I like this movie. It's a genuine guilty pleasure. The villians are played by two of my favorite genre actors -- David Hess and the great Giovanni Lombardo Radice -- and no film that features the beautiful (and actually quite talented) Lorraine De Selle can be totally worthless.
As I stated previously, this is a heavily edited version of the film's trailer (essentially, all of the nudity and some straight razor slicing has been cut out, presumably to make it YouTube acceptable). That's not really a problem. If anything, it tightens the whole thing up and, as such, it's actually a bit of an improvement on the original.
Three things to notice about this trailer. 1) Yes, it does say House Of The Park On The Edge. 2) The actual film tends to drag which is something the trailer never does. 3) The disco song that plays at the end -- Do It To Me Once More/Love Me All Night Long...oh my God! This is a terrible song but it does get stuck in your head! I eventually ended up downloading it off of Amazon.
Let's wrap up part one with one of the most controversial films of all time,Cannibal Holocaust. Despite rumors to the contrary, no human were harmed while making this film. However, a lot of animals were and that's what makes this such a problematic film. In my opinion, if you ignore the scenes of the cast killing animals (the gigantic water turtle is the best known of the victims but there are plenty of others), then Cannibal Holocaust is, in its own way, one of the greatest films ever made. Unfortunately, you really can't ignore all the animal cruelty because it was filmed and included in the film's final cut.
Regardless of all that, this trailer is a classic. It's also rather explicit so it wouldn't surprise me if this video gets yanked off of YouTube in the next couple of days (or hours). This trailer also highlights one of the more unexpected strengths of Cannibal Holocaust. For a film that often goes out of its way to be ugly, Cannibal Holocaust features a truly beautiful soundtrack. Strangely enough, the same man who created the opulent tackiness of The House on The Edge of the Park's disco theme song, Riz Ortolani, was responsible for the haunting theme music of Cannibal Holocaust. (Of course, it should also be mentioned that both films were directed by Ruggero Deodato.)
I attempted to go see Stephen Soderbergh's new film, The Girlfriend Experience, yesterday but a combination of bad weather and slow drivers prevented me from getting to the theater in time. Seriously, if you can't bring yourself to go at least ten miles over the speed limit, you have no business owning a car.
In a truly shocking twist, the members of the U.S. Senate apparently found the time to review the U.S. Constitution and discovered that they are not required to serve as a rubber stamp for the president (even if that president happens to be Barack Obama).
Apparently, the members of the Senate are only willing to put their blind faith in Obama Magic when it comes to such petty concerns as the U.S. economy. When it comes to finding a new place to house terrorists, they want a detailed plan.
Actually, what they really want is a detailed plan that involves sending the terrorists as far away from potential voters as possible.
What this means, of course, is that the terrorists will ultimately show up in a state that not only has two Republican senators but a 100% Republican delegation to the U.S. House, a Republican governor, and one that will definitely never come close to voting for a Democrat in the 2012 presidential election.
Good luck finding that in 2009!
(And before you say it, Utah actually does send 1 Democrat to the U.S. House. Yes, I was as shocked as anyone to learn this.)
One imagines that, as of right now, Obama's national security team is desperately wishing that Ted Stevens had been reelected last year...