It’s Friday the Thirteenth! In previous years Balladeer’s Blog has examined the 1907 novel Friday the Thirteenth, the odd horror/ arthouse film Friday the Thirteenth: The Orphan and the Texas 27 Film Vault presentation of Friday the Thirteenth Part 3D. This year I’ll take a look at some of the worst Jason Voorhees imitators and forerunners.
Movie: Horror House on Highway Five (1985)
Lore: Bartholomew wore a Richard Nixon mask while slicing and dicing his victims. He was a simple-minded man transformed into an unstoppable killer by a Nazi mad scientist … A Nazi mad scientist who, strangely enough, wore a yarmulke. With a swastika on it. (?)
FOR MY FULL-LENGTH REVIEW CLICK HERE
Movie: The Psychopath (1975)
Lore: Mister Rabbey was a child-minded nutcase who hosted a Mister Rogers-type kiddie show. When he discovers that some of the children he visits at the local hospital have been abused by their parents he sets out to kill those abusers. He kills by strangling one victim with his security blanket but also uses weapons like a baseball bat, garden shears and a lawnmower in his deadly crusade.
FOR MY FULL-LENGTH REVIEW CLICK HERE Continue reading
The Labor Day Holiday is taking on greater significance the more that the white collar criminals called Democrats and Republicans sell out the working class. Bought and paid for office-holders from both political parties are content to screw over the working class.
MATEWAN (1987) – This John Sayles film examines the 1920 Matewan Massacre in the West Virginia coal fields. The workers were attempting to form a union and the owners – the kind of people that the one percenters’ beloved New York Times has proclaimed to be “the conscience of the country” used hired thugs to harass – and even kill – the laborers.
On top of that the owners planned to bring in replacement workers who would work for less money and would not expect “luxuries” like worker safety measures and the like.
It’s like today as DemCorp and RepubCorp embrace Corporate Fascism by helping bloated rich pigs usher unlimited numbers of illegal immigrants into countries around the world in order to bring in people who will work for lower wages and without “luxuries” like sick leave and such.
Today’s rich pigs have added a new wrinkle: pretending to be showing “compassion” and lecturing the working class and the poor about the glories of a borderless society. Ultimately this will even overload Social Programs to the point where they all collapse from lack of funding.
AN IMPORTANT REASON FOR HAVING BORDERS IS PRECISELY BECAUSE OF THE LONG-HELD PRINCIPLE THAT A COUNTRY CAN HAVE SOCIAL PROGRAMS OR OPEN BORDERS BUT NOT BOTH. Borders also help in disease control and crime control, but the one percenters and bloated rich pigs never have to worry about either. Continue reading
HAMMETT (1982) – Directed by Wim Wenders and produced by Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope Studios, Hammett is a criminally neglected valentine to Hard-Boiled Detective Stories and Film Noir. The flick is based on the novel by Joe Gores.
The stories about the behind the scenes chaos and conflicts surrounding the production of this movie are legion. Pre-production work began in 1975 and by the time it was released in 1982 multiple cast and story changes had taken place and Coppola himself re-shot more than a third of the film.
In the way that Time After Time presented a whimsical “what if” adventure featuring H.G. Wells having a real time machine, Hammett serves up iconic detective novelist Dashiell Hammett getting caught up in solving a real-life mystery.
The timing is excellent, with the story being set in the late 1920s, after Hammett was no longer working for the Pinkerton Detective Agency but before he became a successful author. The tale begins with our hero – played by Frederic Forrest – typing out one of his penny-a-word Pulp stories for Black Mask Magazine, which was to detective fiction what Weird Tales was to horror and sci-fi.
Booze and coughing fits figure prominently in the movie, as you would expect given a protagonist who was an alcoholic with tuberculosis. For the sake of convenience the story that Hammett just finished before blacking out was one featuring his character the Continental Op (as in an operative for the fictional Continental Detective Agency).
Hammett awakens to find his most recent work being read by Jimmy Ryan (Peter Boyle), his old mentor from his Pinkerton days. Ryan jokes with “Sam” (Samuel Dashiell Hammett was his full name if you’re new to all things Hammett) that the “man with no name” in the story seems to be based on him (Ryan) and the way he operates.
Eventually Jimmy gets to the point: he saved Hammett’s life when our hero was new at detective work, and Ryan is finally calling in the debt that Sam owes him for that. The former colleague thus lures Hammett back into detective work for one last case. Continue reading
Rutger Hauer has passed away. In the usual Balladeer’s Blog custom when an actor dies, here’s an affectionate look at one of Rutger’s most enjoyably bad movies.
PRECIOUS FIND (1996) – This is a hilariously bad attempt to do a science fiction version of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. That description makes this movie sound much, MUCH better than it really is.
In the far future a lunar colony called Moon City is the jumping-off point for prospectors who travel to various asteroids trying to strike “precious finds” in the form of valuable metals and precious stones. The Christmas background adds to the fun in this UN-intentional comedy.
Rutger Hauer, whose performances run the quality gamut from Lawrence Olivier to Nicolas Cage, is very firmly in Cage territory in this bomb. Hauer plays Armond Crille, a former prospector who has given up hard work for the more lucrative trade of fleecing bored prospectors at the card-playing tables. Continue reading
GANG OF ROSES (2003) – The annual Frontierado Holiday, coming August 2nd this year, is about the myth of the Old West, not the grinding reality. So is the movie Gang of Roses, which is why I cannot believe the merciless reviews this fun, harmless, escapist movie has gotten. I find it far better than the similar Bad Girls.
I eat, sleep and breathe Bad Movies, and this was a case where I settled in happily expecting to see an all-time disaster based on the reviews that Gang of Roses gets and its 2.3 rating at IMDb. Instead I saw a movie that I think deserves AT WORST a 5 or 6 rating. Maybe a 7 if you’re into Spaghetti Westerns.
Years ago I gave a glowing review to Posse (1993) starring Mario Van Peebles and, significantly Gang of Roses features a cameo by Van Peebles – dressed as Jesse Lee from Posse – giving an assist to the all-female title gang. He then says “Good luck, ladies” and rides off. (For obvious legal and financial reasons he’s listed in the credits simply as “Cameo” instead of Jesse Lee.)
I mention this because many Western fans told me they would have liked Posse if not for the underlying political message. Well, in Gang of Roses you get all the fun action of Posse with NO politics at all.
Let me give a quick synopsis, then take a look at the main characters, following which I will state my counter-arguments to the most frequent criticisms leveled at this female-led Western:
The gunslinging gang of the title is made up of four black women and one Asian woman. We’re told that after robbing a few dozen banks the gang split up and its members went their separate ways. When the sister of the Roses’ leader gets murdered during an outlaw gang’s crime spree that leader gets the band together again to seek vengeance and a hidden fortune in gold and jewels.
The main characters: Continue reading
BREAKHEART PASS (1975) – (Frontierado is coming up August 2nd and, as always, it’s about the myth of the Old West, not the grinding reality.) Alistair MacLean may be more closely associated with espionage and crime thrillers like When Eight Bells Toll, The Eagle Has Landed and Puppet on a Chain but his lone Western, Breakheart Pass, is a very solid story which transfers MacLean’s usual themes to the American West.
Charles Bronson stars as Deakin, a former man of medicine turned gambler, con-man and gunslinger. Needless to say his wife Jill Ireland is along for the ride, this time playing a woman being wooed by oily Governor Fairchild (Richard Crenna). Ben Johnson portrays Marshal Pearce, Ed Lauter IS Major Claremont and Bill McKinney takes on the role of Reverend Peabody.
Some critics bash this above-average film because they apparently thought Alistair MacLean’s name on the script meant it would be an over-the-top Western Spy actioner along the lines of Robert Conrad’s old Wild Wild West television series crossed with Where Eagles Dare. Instead, Breakheart Pass comes closer to grittiness than slickness and is all the more enjoyable for that. Continue reading
For Episode One plus background information click HERE
William Smith would have made a good Kid Russell in the 60s.
Title: LUCKY BOY
The Year: 1882
Synopsis: We move on to the period in which future artist Kid Russell was working for the famed Jake “Lucky Boy” Hoover. Lucky Boy was a former prospector turned trapper, guide and professional big game hunter. After having been fired by his previous employer in 1881 (see Episode One), Russell struck up a friendship with Hoover.
During the two years that Kid Russell worked for Lucky Boy, he learned all about trapping and hunting, though he never fully warmed up to either trade, however, since he preferred painting wildlife to blood-sports. He took much more enthusiastically to learning the survival lore that went hand-in-hand with them.
Charley’s favorite of all the businesses he and Lucky Boy pursued was serving as guides for wealthy Easterners as well as European and Russian Nobility and tycoons, many of whom flocked to the Montana area in the 1880s. These magnates and blue-bloods loved vacationing in the already romantic Wild West and enjoyed the scenery plus the big-game hunting. (See the Euro-Western Shalako as well as The Hunting Party for the kind of dangers such expeditions could encounter.) Continue reading