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Having A Movie Moment with Jon Longhi: The Reptile with a Side of Quartermass

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, October 4, 2019 07:43pm | 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. If you're a Hammer movie fan Shout Factory really opened the floodgates for you in August when they released some of the best films the studio ever produced including one that is arguably their very best.

The Reptile, Shout Factory:
This has always been one of my very favorite Hammer films. The studio was mainly known for redoing all the classic Universal monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolfman, and the Mummy in their own unique and luridly colorful British style. What sets The Reptile apart is that it is their own original creation. There are mild elements of the werewolf in the film but the script goes to new and unexpected places. The movie is kind of a slow burn but when the monster does finally reveal itself it is as good as anything Jack Pierce created. This was a later Hammer film so everybody who worked on this was at the top of their game when it was made. It's just a good story that is well told. Everything on the movie works flawlessly, the cinematography, directing, script, music, acting, so that when all these elements are put together they make a perfect whole. On many levels, this film is the essential embodiment of Hammer and their style.

It starts with a murder like many of the best Hammer movies do. After Charles Spalding is killed in this opening scene his brother Harry and his new bride, Valerie, inherit his cottage and move to the rural town of Clagmoor Heath in Cornwall. They find the town living in terror due to a rash of recent deaths caused by a mysterious and unexplained ailment the locals refer to as the "Black Death." The corpses left behind by this ailment are all foaming at the mouth with blackened and swollen faces. At first the locals shun the couple, but Harry eventually befriends Tom Bailey who owns the local pub and offers to help Harry solve the mystery of the recent deaths. Tom and Harry have only seen similar symptoms in people bitten by king cobras in India. Their investigation leads them to the nearby home of the sinister Doctor Franklyn who recently moved to the area with his daughter Anna. Franklyn is a professor of theology who has traveled the world studying mysterious and hidden cults and religious groups. To describe Doctor Franklyn's relationship with his daughter as "dysfunctional" is putting it lightly. Every scene with these two is profoundly disturbing on a number of psychological levels. You know something weird is going on with these people you just don't know what it is. John Gilling does an excellent job directing and he keeps you guessing at the true nature of what is going on right up until the final act. The ending really delivers and the movie is as good as any of the classic monster films Universal made.

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October is Full of Weird Wednesdays at the Alamo Drafthouse New Mission

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, September 30, 2019 06:20pm | Post a Comment

Anton LaVey

Not only is October the kookiest, spookiest, and ookiest month of all, but at the Alamo Drafthouse New Mission in San Francisco, it's also the Weirdest. Amoeba Music is thrilled and chilled to continue partnering with Alamo Drafthouse into the witching month for these five bitching Weird Wednesdays this October:

THE LOVE WITCH (2016)
Wednesday, October 2. 10:15pm
The Love Witch is a breath of fresh air for twenty-first century horror. Meticulously crafted on 35mm film by genre revisionist Anna Biller, this is both a salute to -- and an attack on -- decades of exploitation tradition. When a witch named Elaine (Samantha Robinson) moves to a new town, she wastes no time in using spells to line up lovers. And also corpses. Soon, Elaine finds her haunted libido in a psychotropic battle against an entire town of weirdos. Combining the hyper-stylized aesthetic of Jacques Tati, the surreal melodrama of Nicholas Ray, and the pop-art violence of Doris Wishman, The Love Witch drips with day-glo pulp while challenging gender expectations in horror. Smart, timeless, and unmissable.





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Having A Movie Moment with Jon Longhi: Kung Fu Vampires & Medieval Christians

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, June 18, 2019 01:25pm | 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 I review a crazy cult vampire kung fu zombie movie and a cinematic masterpiece about a Christian painter in the Middle Ages.

The Legend Of The Seven Golden Vampires, Shout Factory/Scream Factory:
This was the only time that the mighty Hammer Studios teamed up with the Shaw Brothers, but they should have made a habit of it. This delirious kung fu vampire zombie film is one of the most entertaining movies either studio produced. It kind of combines what both studios did best. On the Hammer side, you have actors like Peter Cushing playing distinguished aristocrats and the studio's beautiful gothic neon technicolor cinematography. On the Shaw Brothers side of things, you have hideous monsters, surreal flourishes in the story and images, and some of the best kung fu fighting you'll ever see. When you mix them together it's like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup of pure horror movie fun. The film starts with a Chinese villain traveling to Transylvania to enlist Count Dracula's help in reincarnating the legendary seven golden vampires in his homeland. Dracula instead steals his identity and travels himself to China to become the new ruler of these vampires of the far east. Meanwhile, Doctor Van Helsing (played by Peter Cushing) is giving a lecture tour in China, trying to warn the country's scientists of the vampire scourge. He tells them that he has heard legends of a town terrorized by a group of seven vampires. He's pretty much laughed off the stage by everyone except for one man who knows the doctor is telling the truth. The man's name is Hsi Ching and he's from the town the seven golden vampires have recently returned to. He and his seven brothers enlist the aid of Van Helsing, and, with the help of a traveling dilettante heiress who underwrites the expedition, they all take off to defeat the monsters. What follows is a series of adventures that plays like an Indiana Jones movie infested with vampires and zombies. The film is filled with action scenes that are like a form of kung fu ballet. The vampires have a literal army of zombies and the fight scenes are non-stop.

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Having A Movie Moment with Jon Longhi: Melies, Moles & Mantises

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, May 22, 2019 07:58pm | 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.

Melies Fairy Tales In Color, Blackhawk Films/Flicker Alley:
I was less than halfway through my first viewing of this when I realized it was one of my favorite things I own. Many of these films have been released many times before. I already own a couple of restored Georges Melies collections and they look good, but they don't look anything like this. To begin with, my old collections are in black & white, but this new set is in COLOR! These weren't colorized by Ted Turner, no, each and every frame of these films was hand painted. Melies was a genius who just couldn't accept the shortcomings of technology. Sure, film had just been invented and was only silent and black & white, but Melies wasn't about to let those basic facts hold him back. So he had every frame of his movies painted with gorgeous color that reminds one of the French postcards that were contemporaneous to Melies' films. The director had fantastic images he wanted to show so he developed a variety of special effects to show them. Double exposures, substitution splices, time-lapse photography... Melies developed and did whatever it took to make his visions real and the results are just as jaw dropping now as they were a hundred and twenty years ago.

The films are surreal, complex, and fantastic, they create a unique world of magic and wonder. This set is worth it just for the restored version of A Trip To The Moon alone. Melies' loose and fanciful adaptation of Jules Verne's classic novel has long been considered one of the cornerstones of cinema. I've seen the film many times before but this new color version is like seeing it for the first time. The hand-painted frames make the fantastic lunar world even more stunning and psychedelic. But A Trip To The Moon is just one of thirteen films on this set, and others like The Kingdom Of The Fairies and The Impossible Voyage are equally surreal and amazing. There are scenes on this disc that you will find yourself watching over and over because the images are just so timeless and cool. The person who painted Melies' sets is one of the best painters I've ever seen. I kept freeze-framing the films just to stop and soak up the amazing details of his painted backdrops. Labyrinthine cities, dense tangled forests, haunted medieval towns -- his details were just spectacular. The hand-painted colors add another whole dimension to the films. Often they are more than just coloring and actually react to the action occurring on screen. Melies had an influence on every artist who came after him. At times, artists like Salvador Dali, Walt Disney, and Terry Gilliam just seem to be copying him. His influence on the surrealists especially is incalculable, but elements of his work exist throughout pop culture. Some of the most timeless images in film history are in this set. It belongs in every person's collection.

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Having A Movie Moment with Jon Longhi: It's All Black And White

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, April 30, 2019 06:24pm | Post a Comment

By Jon Longhi

Recently we've been treated to an avalanche of new Blu-ray releases of classic fifties black and white movies. In this article, I'm going to focus on a couple of recent sci-fi and horror classics. In the 1950s, Hollywood turned America’s fear of atomic bombs and their fallout into drive-in movie gold. An endless stream of radioactive monsters invaded movie screens and the public ate them up with a seemingly insatiable appetite. Now, decades later, many of these drive-in classics are being remastered and released on Blu-ray. There are too many to review in one month so I’ll just focus on a couple of the best of them:

The Creature From The Black Lagoon Legacy Collection, Universal:
It looks like The Creature From The Black Lagoon has finally been fixed. This Legacy Collection actually Creature From The Black Lagooncame out in the fall of 2018, but it was one of the most screwed up Blu-ray releases in recent history. The first Creature film has been out on Blu-ray for years but everyone has anxiously been awaiting the remastered sequels. Everything else in the Legacy series had been released on Blu-ray and the Creature set was one of the last two to be put out. The first Creature film looked just fine, but the sequels were a disaster. Universal had completely screwed up the mastering on the disc to the point where the entire run eventually had to be recalled. Here at the store we've had this Legacy set on backorder for months, but we just started getting new copies in the past three weeks. These are finally the corrected discs. There's still some griping online about the quality of the sequels though. I can understand the complaints, some of the scenes still look a little soft, but I'm pretty sure the blurriness one sees here and there was in the original film elements. The majority of the scenes are crystal clear and finally in hi-def. The underwater scenes look especially immaculate and you can see details of the creature costume that were never discernible before. The Creature From The Black Lagoon has always been my favorite Universal monster movie. It's just a perfect little story that is well told. The sequels are pretty great as well even though they kind of retread the original. The gill man has one of the best designs in monster history, he's fearsome yet still slightly human. The story is a simple straight to the point narrative: a team of scientists travel to the depths of the Amazon in search of a fossilized missing link between humans and sea creatures. Instead, they find the still-living real McCoy and all hell breaks loose as they fight for their lives. The film is kind of like the ultimate distillation of man verses nature.

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