Balladeer’s Blog is all about responding to reader questions and requests. Some of you have mentioned that you’d like to see me write about what revisions I’d have made to the Star Wars sequels in the same way I write about revisions I’d have made to old Killraven stories or how I’d have handled the unfinished Harry Flashman novels.
I have only ever been a casual (at most) Star Wars fan so it’s possible that lets me approach the subject with a certain detachment that many others lack. I have no favorite characters and I’m not really invested in the story or its universe outside of the original lightning-in-a-bottle 1977 film.
My take is that the sequel trilogy is too much of a mess and has nothing worth salvaging. However, since there is more and more talk about recasting the major roles like Luke, Han and Leia for a potential reboot or tv series I figured THAT’S what I’d look at.
The original 1977 Star Wars is about as close to perfection as you can get in terms of a movie succeeding at what it was intended to be: in this case a fun, uncomplicated valentine to the days of simpler storytelling as a nice antidote to the glut of self-consciously “deep” movies by that point in the 70s.
There’s nothing wrong with deep or introspective movies, of course, but by 1977 it seems that audiences were VERY hungry for a movie that didn’t wallow in unsolvable problems and was instead sheer feel-good spectacle. (I often speculate that if the Robert Shaw film Swashbuckler had come out after Star Wars instead of before it, it might have been received much more enthusiastically.)
My own take on potentially casting a new Luke, Han & Leia and starting over would be that the original Star Wars should remain untouched. Begin the reboot AFTER that film but eliminate the overrated twist in which Darth Vader turns out to be Luke’s father and Leia turns out to be his sister. Continue reading
CHANGE OF HABIT (1969) – This review is in honor of Elvis Presley’s birthday. Change of Habit is a movie that was practically MADE to be ridiculed. You’ve got Elvis Presley, never exactly a master thespian, his sideburns, which out-perform him in this flick and Mary Tyler Moore as a nun torn between her vows and her growing attraction to The King.
Elvis himself plays a doctor named John Carpenter (yes, like the horror film director), making his initials J.C., just like another famous Jewish carpenter … Jacob Cohen. Dr Elvis runs a practice in the ghetto, which should probably be rendered THE GHETTO instead, given the ham-fisted and stereotypical depiction of the neighborhood and its inhabitants.
Elvis’ character – if you can make it out behind his usual one-note performance – is supposed to be the perfect made-for-film physician: good looking, compassionate and willing to buck the system in order to help his patients. … And, of course, he sings.
Mary Tyler Moore’s Sister Michelle is accompanied by her sister nuns Sister Barbara, played by Jane Elliott in the years before she was a Soap Opera queen, and Sister Irene, played by African-American actress and singer Barbara McNair. Continue reading
January 8th is the combined marking of Elvis Presley’s birthday and the Battle of New Orleans, in which General Andrew Jackson and French Pirate Jean Lafitte defeated the British in the final battle of the War of 1812.
In the past Balladeer’s Blog has observed this date with looks at the musical Rock’N’Roll vs The Redcoats and with an article on the whole Orion/ Elvis situation. This time I’m taking a quick look at some early Elvis movies.
LOVE ME TENDER (1956) – Elvis was the latest reason that the saga of the Reno Gang/ Reno Brothers got distorted on the big screen. The need to turn the Reno story into a vehicle for Elvis Presley made this attempt the most unintentionally funny of them all.
Favorite Part: A scene between Elvis, playing Clint Reno, and Richard Egan, playing Vance Reno. Despite the fact that the long-missing Vance was given up for dead and Elvis married his mourning girlfriend in the meantime the Side-Burned One actually asks “What’s troublin’ you, Vance?” That question has been a catch-phrase for me ever since I first saw this flick on late-night tv.
Favorite Weirdass Song: Let Me Continue reading
Since I’m into mythology I often get asked how I feel about Ancient Astronauts/ Ancient Aliens theories.
I don’t find any of them convincing, and in fact there is a terrific three hour documentary examining the omissions and misleading statements of the famed Ancient Aliens program. Continue reading
2020 TEXAS GLADIATORS (1982) – HAPPY NEW YEAR! Balladeer’s Blog’s Weirdness at the End of the World welcomes in the year 2020 with a look at what Texas will be like in a few months. There are changes coming your way, Texans!
Actually, it’s not really Texas and there are NO gladiators in this film but at least it is now officially 2020!
When reviewing other post-apocalypse movies I’ve often made references to 2020 Texas Gladiators. The fact that I call it my favorite bad post-apocalypse movie has often prompted readers of Balladeer’s Blog to ask why I hadn’t reviewed it yet. The answer was always that I was saving it up for New Year’s Day of 2020.
Just because this is my favorite bad post-apocalypse film does NOT mean I consider it to be the worst one. That designation would be reserved for unwatchable trash like Empire of Ash III and the like.
2020 Texas Gladiators is my favorite bad entry in the genre because of how it defeats itself at every turn, because of its lame attempts to pretend it’s being filmed in America instead of Italy and because of how joyously tasteless it is. Tell the Hekawi tribe from F-Troop to move over! They’ve been replaced as the fakest-looking Native Americans in entertainment history by the post-apocalypse Indians in this flick, portrayed by obvious Italian extras!
Their black wigs with built-in headbands are one thing, their less than authentic vests are another thing, their Tonto way of speaking still another, but the POST-APOCALYPSE TEEPEES they live in will bring a smile to the lips of any true fan of really bad exploitation movies.
Taking things from the top, Al D’Amato directed 2020 Texas Gladiators under one of his countless aliases. For all I know he may have even directed a film using MY name. The following year Warrior of the Lost World, another Italian ripoff of Mad Max, would reuse this movie’s Nazi-esque uniforms and riot shields for the bad guys and many of this flick’s supporting cast. Hell, the largest vehicle in 2020TG even shows up as Mega-Weapon in that same movie. Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog’s end of year retrospective concludes with this look at November’s best:
A NEW LIST OF HILARIOUSLY WRONG PREDICTIONS FROM PSYCHICS – Cannibalism in Pennsylvania? A Civil War in the 1980s?
All that and more. CLICK HERE
ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION: The People of the Moon (1895) HERE , The Dominion in 1983 (1883) HERE , A Fantastical Excursion Into The Planets (1839) HERE
THE RUSTIC – My look at this ancient Greek Comedy by Epicharmus. CLICK HERE
ALLEGRO NON TROPPO – A review of the 1977 Italian film. CLICK HERE
IRON SIGHTS: TWO PSYCHOS – Comic book giant Richard C Meyer’s latest graphic novel featuring all-out action against the Mexican drug cartels. CLICK HERE
CONGRESSWOMAN TULSI GABBARD CALLS OUT HER PARTY – The heroic role model once again displays her courage. CLICK HERE
THE BLACK TULIP: SWASHBUCKLER – An action-filled adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas novel from 1850. CLICK HERE Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog’s end of year retrospective continues with this look at September’s best:
POLEIS (CITIES) 422-419 B.C. – A look at the ancient Greek political comedy written by Eupolis. CLICK HERE
TRANSGRESS WITH ME: SEPTEMBER 23rd – Are you brave enough to share some more transgressive thoughts? CLICK HERE
ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION – Messages From Mars (1892) HERE , The Queen of Appalachia (1901) HERE , Babylon Electrified (1888) HERE , Looking Forward (1899) HERE , The Automatic Maid (1893) HERE
HEROIC WOMEN FIGHTING OPPRESSION IN THE MUSLIM WORLD – The title says it all. CLICK HERE
WOI EPIC – A Liberian epic myth about gods and demons. CLICK HERE
ISAIAH WASHINGTON – And yet another Martin Luther King Person of Courage to profile – CLICK HERE Continue reading