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Having a Movie Moment with Jon Longhi: Coronavirus Comfort Food

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, June 14, 2020 03:40pm | Post a Comment

By Jon Longhi.

When you work at Amoeba, the world is your media oyster. A copy of pretty much any new DVD, Blu-ray, or CD shows up used within the first couple of weeks of its release. Employees are allowed to use Amoeba as kind of a library for used stuff. On an average week at work I watch anywhere from five to ten new release movies. Some are movies made that year, others reissues of films from decades past. It makes it really easy to write a new release column like this. Well, that spigot shut off three months ago along with the rest of human civilization. Sure, I’ve got a huge movie collection and have had no problems keeping myself entertained during the shutdown, but new releases? Well, I’ve bought one new Blu-ray since the shutdown. The supply lines are jacked. Titles have been delayed. The prices for them are expensive even on discounted sites like Amazon. I only have a couple of new releases left to review. So this column is less of an overview of things that came out this month and more a review of the last things I bought from Amoeba before the world collapsed. They were good movies for this time because all of them are FUN. They’re coronavirus comfort food and they helped get me through these dark times.

The Return of Ultraman, Mill Creek Entertainment:
I bought this the week before the shutdown. I wasn’t going to review this because I’ve already devoted a Return of Ultramanlot of ink to these Ultraman releases in previous columns but as I said earlier, the slush pile is pretty much gone these days. Mill Creek Entertainment’s official Blu-ray releases of Ultraman are some of my favorite releases of all time. I’ve bought this stuff on horrible overpriced bootlegs for decades and am overjoyed that I can throw all those old copies away. Some of those bootlegs didn’t even have subtitles but I watched them anyway. These Mill Creek Blu-rays are the official prints direct from the Toho and Tsuburaya vaults. They are gorgeous and the sound is great. I’ve watched these shows over and over and have been utterly entranced watching them because they are so sharp it is like watching each episode for the first time. Plus, since they are subtitled, I’m frequently actually understanding what is going on for the first time. Usually in the past when I reviewed a big TV box set like this, I had watched anywhere from six to eight hours of the set by the time I wrote the review. Well, I’ve actually watched all twenty-one and a half hours of this set as I’m writing this. It’s one of the things that’s been instrumental in helping me psychologically survive the past three months.

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Weird Wednesday at The Alamo Drafthouse New Mission in September

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, September 1, 2019 03:42pm | Post a Comment

Amoeba and Alamo Drafthouse are at it again this September as we continue our partnership for Weird Wednesday at the New Mission theater in SF! Weird Wednesday is Alamo's weekly celebration of movies that are too outrageous, too beastly, too gritty, and sometimes too synthy for prime time. Here's what we have in store for you this month...

SLEEPWALKERS (1992)
Wednesday, September 4. 10:15pm
Mary and her son Charles are shapeshifting, telekinetic beasts who eat the souls of virgins and battle really cute house cats. Oh, and they’re also lovers. Filled with gory carnage, jaw-dropping special effects, and a constant barrage of insanity, Sleepwalkers is the ultimate WTF party in Stephen King’s filmography. Look for uncredited cameos from Mark Hamill, Joe Dante, Tobe Hooper, and Clive Barker. Plus a scene with John Landis eating a sandwich while performing an autopsy.



AN EVENING OF SYNTH ROCK W/ GENESIS AND EMERSON, LAKE, AND PALMER (1977)
Wednesday, September 11. 10:40pm
A 35mm double bill played L*O*U*D, communing us with the colorful godz of classic progressive rock. Come take a topographic journey into 21st Century Schizoid land with us. Everything that makes prog wonderful (and everything scoffed at by critics of the day) is on display in Genesis: In Concert (‘77) and ELP: Pictures At An Exhibition (‘73): synths, organs, dual drummers, Rickenbacker basses, guitar prodigies, elaborate stage shows, astounding sounds, lyrics from another planet and melodies from the eighth dimension.

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Sword-and-Sandal Time with Debra Paget

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, August 31, 2019 06:29pm | Post a Comment

By Kai Wada Roath
Ambassador of Confusion Hill and host of the Super Shangri-La Show


"Oh yeah there's all kinds of things happening here boy! There's sword fighting, horse-play, and there's dancing, dancing, dancing...Holy Cats!!"
~ Commander USA introducing Princess of the Nile (1954) on his Groovie Movies TV show

Pour yourself some pomegranate wine in a clay chalice, light some botanica candles, and kick your feet Journey to the Lost Cityup as Debra Paget takes you away to romantic palaces in ancient desert lands. Some of you may remember Debra from starring in Roger Corman's Tales of Terror and The Haunted Palace (both 1963 and her last films), but it was truly the Fritz Lang Indian epic of The Tiger of Eschnapur and The Indian Tomb (both released in 1959) that made her famous for her snake dance scene.

*Sidenote: This reminds me of the time I left my snake charmers flute that I got in India in my car on a hot day and the resin that kept it together melted all over my seat and my car reeked for months like someone dumped bong water in it.

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Having A Movie Moment with Jon Longhi: Mothra & Space 1999

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, August 31, 2019 05:50pm | Post a Comment

By Jon Longhi.

Welcome to this month's Having A Movie Moment With Jon Longhi where I review recent Blu-ray releases. This month we travel from the island of Japan to the depths of the universe.

Mothra, Mill Creek:
When a new hundred million dollar Godzilla reboot to hit the theaters I just assumed we'd be treated to aMothra flood of classic kaiju reissues on Blu-ray, but instead it looks like we only got this. And I'm not knocking this release. Mothra is a great movie and Mill Creek did a fantastic job on this, I just figured there would be more classic Japanese monster movie releases to coattail on the marketing for the new film. All is not lost though. It looks like Mill Creek has signed a deal with Toho and they have more releases to come. On October 15th they will release two classic kaiju Blu-ray sets: Ultraman and Ultra Q. Both of these sets are motherloads of Japanese monster movie goodness and will be the first time North America has ever seen Toho's official remastered hi-def prints of these shows. If they look as good as this new Mothra release, we are in for quite a treat.

This reasonably priced steel book edition of the film comes with both the US and original Japanese versions of the movie as well as some nice extras. This is easily the best print of Mothra that has ever been released and, while it is not flawless, the majority of the film looks gorgeous. Certain scenes like the one in the cave when Mothra's egg hatches have been cleaned up to the point where they reveal all kinds of details you could never see before. The cave is filled with mutated plants and animals that were little more than blurry shapes in the old editions. Sometimes the remastering is so good it leads to unintended effects. Now you can see better than ever before that all the special effects in the film were made with models and puppets, but the models and puppets are totally cool and amazing. Toho created many of their special effects by stacking up multiple layers of film and the new remaster sometimes exposes every scratch and piece of dust on each of these layers of film. But these are pretty minor quibbles. The bottom line is that Mothra has never looked or sounded better.

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I'm Gonna Meet You on the Astral Plane

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, August 31, 2019 04:00pm | Post a Comment

By Kai Wada Roath
Ambassador of Confusion Hill and host of the Super Shangri-La Show


Astral projection, also called astral travel, is a term used in esotericism to explain an intentional out-of-body experience. In some far away tribes, men would use these abilities to fly over the jungle forests to look for the perfect tree to chop down to carve into a canoe. For me, I wanted to revisit the Mark Twain Saloon in Virginia City to see the paintings on the walls again, but my jalopy truck broke down before the trip, so that night I laid in my bed and let my spirit travel the astral plane over the state line. Folks, with practice, this is the cheapest way to take a vacation.

Perhaps the most famous song about traveling the astral plane is..."Astral Plane" on The Modern Lovers first album, which came out in 1976. And those who love the dreamy, soft voice of Valerie June from Memphis have probably heard her sing of dancing on the astral plane. But let's get more freaky with the 1970 song with the same title by the acid folk band Influenza.



In fact, in music, books, movies, and comics of the 1970s to early '80s, astral projection was the talk of the town...if you lived in a weird town. My Uncle Fred who lives down in Mexico practices astral projection. I'll never forget my aunt once asking him what he looked forward to doing when he got home after a family visit and he said, "Oh, just leaving my body and going where I wanna go."

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